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UKRAINE

Spain to reopen embassy in Kyiv, prime minister says

Spain will reopen its embassy in Kyiv "shortly," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday, the latest country to return its diplomats to the Ukrainian capital after the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Spain to reopen embassy in Kyiv, prime minister says
Spain's prime minister said the embassy in Kyiv would reopen "in the coming days". (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

The country’s diplomatic delegation was evacuated from the Ukrainian capital to Poland shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.

“We will reopen the Spanish embassy in Kyiv in Ukraine shortly, in the coming days, as another show of the commitment of the Spanish government, of Spanish society, with the people of Ukraine,” Sanchez said during an interview with private television Antena 3.

Spain is providing support to Ukraine through military equipment, humanitarian aid and by welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

Turkey has moved its embassy in Ukraine back to Kyiv after relocating it to Chernivtsi near the Romanian border.

READ ALSO: Spanish village changes its name to Ukraine

France announced last week that its embassy would return to Kyiv from the western city of Lviv.

Russian diplomats expelled

Earlier this month, Spain had expelled 25 Russian diplomats and embassy staff over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“The unbearable images we have seen of the massacre of civilians in the town of Bucha after the withdrawal of the Russian army deeply outrage us,” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said in a reference to a town outside Kyiv.

The Russian diplomats and staff “represent a threat to the interest of the country” and they will be expelled “immediately”, he told a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting.

“We are talking about a group of around 25 people, we are completing the list,” he said.

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UKRAINE

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.

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