Ukraine requires more air defense to shield grain export, says President Zelenskyy


Nov 25, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


Ukraine needs more air defenses to protect its grain export routes as well regions bordering Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday, as he addressed an international summit on food security in Kyiv. The Swiss President during the summit also pledged to provide additional support to Kyiv.


“There is a deficit of air defense - that is no secret,” Zelenskyy told the Grain from Ukraine summit, which was attended by senior officials from European countries, including Swiss President Alain Berset and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.


Zelenskyy was speaking after Russia attacked Ukraine with 75 drones overnight, the biggest drone assault of the war. The joint press conference of the three leaders was cut short by another air raid siren.


Zelenskyy said Ukraine would be supplied by its foreign partners with vessels to accompany convoys of cargo ships from Ukraine’s ports to guarantee their security.


“I have agreements with several countries about powerful accompaniment of convoys by Ukrainians, but using [foreign] equipment,” he said.


The Ukrainian president also said Kyiv hoped to solve its air defense shortage through new supplies from partners and increasing its own production capacity, something on which he said there had been progress.

“As of today, I can’t say in details what we are making and where, but there is progress,” he said.


Ukraine, a major exporter of grain, has been exporting grain via unilateral corridors through the Black sea, after Russia withdrew in July from a UN-brokered deal to allow grain ships through its blockade.


Ukraine’s current Black sea grain export corridors all start from ports in Ukraine’s southern region of Odesa.


“There are certain air defense systems... we are asking for them,” Zelenskyy said. “We’ve already got an answer when those systems will start to guard that region. Because there, both the corridor and the people are important,” he added.


Swiss president pledges more support


Swiss President Alain Berset pledged his long-term support for Ukraine on Saturday in a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv.

“In talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President Berset stressed that Switzerland stands in solidarity with Ukraine for the long haul, even in times of multiple concurrent crises,” the Swiss government said. Zelenskyy said on social media platform X that mine clearing, peace proposals and the use of profits from frozen Russian assets were also discussed.

Switzerland has previously said it has frozen some 7.5 billion Swiss francs (USD 8.5 billion) in Russian assets.

During the trip Berset also visited Bucha where many civilians were killed in the early stages of the war and laid flowers at a memorial in Kyiv for the Soviet-era Holodomor, when millions of Ukrainian peasants starved to death. Berset also said Switzerland would provide additional aid to the country, supplying 10 more ambulances and six fire engines to replace damaged ones.

Switzerland, which has the principle of neutrality embedded in its constitution, has nevertheless imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and joined an international call for a special tribunal to address Russia’s crime of “aggression” against Ukraine. It says there is no contradiction as the legal definition of neutrality means not favoring any warring party militarily.