Belarus is also demanding permission to export its fertilizer products, which are currently subject to Western sanctions.
Belarus has told the UN that it will unconditionally allow food in transit from Ukraine to be exported from Lithuanian ports through its territory, a UN spokesman said.
Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Ambrazevic met U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Friday and told him there were no preconditions for the transit of Ukrainian grain, U.N. spokesman Stephen Dugarik said. .
Amblazevic also “reiterated his government’s demand to be able to export its own fertilizer products, which are currently subject to sanctions,” Dujarric said in a statement after the meeting.
Belarus, a large global potash producer, has been hit since 2020 by crippling EU sanctions – which have halted its fertilizer exports through Baltic ports – in response to violence by authorities against peaceful protesters following a disputed election. At the time, Minsk needed Russian help to quell a wave of pro-democracy protests.
Belarus, an ally of Russia and part of the staging ground for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, said in June it would allow Ukrainian grain shipments to Baltic ports if Belarus was also allowed to ship goods from those ports.
Ukraine does not agree to this proposal.
Belarus has remained largely out of direct involvement in the Ukrainian war since the Russian invasion began. However, President Aleksandr Lukashenko has in the past ordered the military to be deployed alongside Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, citing threats to Belarus from Kiev and the West.
Kiev expressed concern that Belarus could collude with Russia and attack Ukraine from its northern border.
In July, the United Nations and Turkey reached a deal with Russia and Ukraine to resume Ukrainian grain shipments in the Black Sea – stalled by Russia’s naval blockade of Ukrainian ports since the start of the war.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has exacerbated a global food crisis, pushing some 47 million people into “extreme hunger”, the United Nations said.