KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the EU on Monday to ensure that an “unacceptable and clearly non-European” ban on Ukrainian grain imports to five countries is lifted by a Sept 15 deadline.
The five central European countries want the EU ban extended at least until the end of the year. The ban is set to expire on Sept 15.
In his nightly video address, delivered after a meeting with government officials, Zelensky said there could be no question of extending the restrictions beyond the deadline.
“We believe that the European side will fulfil its obligations regarding this date, when the temporary restrictions will cease to apply,” Zelensky said.
“Any extension of these restrictions is entirely unacceptable and clearly un-European. Europe has the institutional capacity to act more rationally than closing this or that border to this or that type of good.”
Ukraine, he said, was “actively working with everyone to find a solution that is in line with the spirit of our Europe”.
The president had earlier written on the Telegram messaging app that any extension was “unacceptable in any form”.
The EU in May allowed Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds, while permitting transit of such cargoes for export elsewhere.
The countries include some of Kyiv’s staunchest diplomatic supporters in its war against Moscow, but they say inflows of Ukrainian grain have hurt their farming sectors.
Poland will not lift the ban on Sept 15 even if the EU does not agree on its extension, its prime minister said last week.