Pope urges Moscow to resume grain deal

Pope Francis on Sunday called on Russian authorities to renew a grain deal with Ukraine. He made the appeal after Sunday’s homily, Reuters reports.

“Let us not forget to pray for Ukraine, where war is causing the destruction of everything, even grain… I urge my brothers and the Russian authorities to return to the Black Sea initiative so that grain can be transported in safety”, the pontiff said.

Russian authorities stopped participating in the grain deal on July 17, explaining that Ukraine had failed to fulfill part of the agreements. In response, Russia launched strikes on Ukraine’s port infrastructure, including the port of Odessa, justifying it as “retaliation” for the Crimean Bridge bombing.

The grain deal with Ukraine was an important mechanism for exporting some 33 million tons of food. Stopping this initiative has already led to a rise in grain prices, which has a negative impact on the global food market.

Earlier, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also called on “Russian President” Vladimir Putin to do the same. He emphasized that it was more important for his country and region to participate in the grain deal than to receive the “charitable aid” that Moscow was offering.

“We did not come here to ask for any “gifts” for the African continent. […] It’s not our main goal here, it is not our main task to achieve some supplies of this nature”, Ramaphosa said at the Russia-Africa forum.

In July, Pope Francis expressed his desire to hold a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at a Moscow airport. Such a proposal avoids the difficulties and confrontations associated with the organization of official visits of the Pope to Russia. The meeting at Moscow airport will allow it to take place in a neutral transit zone and will not provoke negative reactions from opponents of the pontiff’s visit.

The proposed date of the possible meeting was suggested for the period from August 31 to September 4, when the Pope will make an apostolic visit to Mongolia.

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