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MOSCOW: Russia’s proposals on how to resume Ukrainian grain exports were “largely supported” by negotiators at talks this week in Istanbul and an agreement is close, the Russian defence ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said that work on what it calls the “Black Sea Initiative” will be finalised soon.

“Russia has proposed measures to ensure the transportation of food to foreign countries, including Russian partners, to rule out the use of supply chains to supply the Kyiv regime with weapons and military equipment, as well as to prevent provocations,” it said.

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are due to sign a deal next week aimed at resuming Black Sea grain exports from Ukraine, which have been severely hampered by the war there.

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion has stalled exports from Ukraine’s ports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos at Odesa.

Moscow has denied responsibility for worsening the food crisis, blaming instead a chilling effect from Western sanctions for slowing its own food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining its Black Sea ports.

Ukraine and Russia are major global wheat suppliers, while Ukraine is a significant producer of corn and sunflower oil.

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