Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is visiting Odesa, Ukraine today.

Simon Coveney will meet Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in the besieged port city where vital grain shipments have resumed through the Black Sea.

It follows Minister Coveney's visit to Kyiv in April and a deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow some grain shipments to leave Odesa.

Mr Coveney said he will get an update on the war and Ukrainian territorial gains in recent days but will also report to the UN Security Council next week on the issue of food security and the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Odesa.

Minister Coveney is visiting government buildings in Odesa as well as the seaport and a grain ship due to leave Odesa under the Black Sea Grain Initiative negotiated between Russia and Ukraine.

He will also be briefed by the head of Odesa military operations and head of Ukrainian navy operations.

Minister Coveney, Minister Kuleba and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis will told a press conference in Odesa this afternoon.

Minister Kuleba is expected to brief the Irish and Lithuanian teams on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the latest on its security and integrity.


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With the outbreak of war on 24 February, Russia blockaded Ukrainian ports and halted the export of wheat, corn and sunflower oil.

Some 22 million tonnes of grain awaiting export built up.

In June, only 2.5 million tonnes were exported compared to an average of 8 million tonnes a month before the war. With this year's harvest beginning, storage facilities are under extreme pressure.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was agreed at the end of July to allow exports to resume. To date more than 250 successful voyages have been undertaken.

Speaking as he crossed the Palanca border crossing between Moldova and Ukraine, Mr Coveney said Ireland's support for the "independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine is unwavering".

Mr Coveney will attend the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine in New York next Thursday, where he said he will brief the council on his visit to Ukraine and will stress Ireland’s opposition to Russia’s actions.

Ireland's two-year term as a member of the UNSC ends this year.

Mr Coveney said the war has had a catastrophic impact on global food supply, which will be "a major focus of the UN General Assembly discussions in New York next week."

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, the minister said grain initiative had so far been a success in terms of moving on grain that was piling up and in danger of rotting.

"For some agricultural products, almost a quarter of the world's traded grain comes from Ukraine and Russia, so it's been having an enormous impact on food security in parts of the world that are already finding it difficult to feed their people.

"It's also had a huge impact in terms of grain prices and food prices in Ireland and across Europe."

He said Ireland was already offering lots of practical assistance to Ukraine, committing €50m in terms of support for the Ukrainian military through the European Peace Facility, along with €40m in humanitarian assistance.

He added: "The best thing we can do in terms of this grain initiative is to give strong political endorsement to ensure that this initiative, which was only signed up to for 120 days, actually continues beyond that end date in November."

Commenting on the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine, and whether this is now depleting, he said it was understandable that the government there was looking for more.

"What Ireland provides through the European Peace Facility is not lethal weapons, its all other types of military support: uniforms, medical equipment, food parcels, helmets, body armour, fuel, all that kind of non-lethal weaponry that is essential for military personnel to actually function."

He said it was important for an exclusion zone to be set up around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and that Ireland was "very concerned" and vocal on this issue at a UN level.

He said neighbouring countries including Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania, had real concerns over this but any breach of a nuclear facility would have an impact at EU level.

Additional reporting Eleanor Burnhill