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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

After Russian Grain Secured, Ukraine Turns to Kazakhstan

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan will deliver 1.2 million metric tons of grain to Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said Monday.

"We have agreed on a total volume of grain deliveries of 1.2 million tons from Kazakhstan," Yanukovych told a news briefing during a visit to the new Kazakh capital.

Yanukovych, who met Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, said he had agreed with Kazakh officials that the price for Kazakh grain would be at least 600 hryvnas to 750 hryvnas per ton ($112 to $140), the price paid on Ukraine's internal market.

Yanukovych gave no details on the timing of shipments, but a Kazakh official said they could start before the new year.

"Some 400,000 tons will be shipped under contracts between Ukrainian and Kazakh firms, some 800,000 tons are being delivered under an intergovernmental agreement," Yanukovich said.

Ukraine, once the breadbasket of the former Soviet Union, was hit by bad weather this year and expects to gather just 20 million tons of grain, compared with 38.8 million in 2002.

Last week Yanukovych clinched a vital deal on imports of 1 million tons of Russian-origin grain.

Ukrainian weather forecasters have said the grain harvest this year -- the worst in decades -- will include about 4.5 million tons of mostly feed wheat, about 7 million tons of barley and up to 7 million tons of maize.

Official estimates show the country of 48 million people needs at least 6 million tons of milling wheat per season and analysts have forecast imports of up to 3 million tons.

Neither the Kazakh nor the Ukrainian delegation commented on what kind of Kazakh grain Ukraine would buy.

A senior Kazakh official said last month his nation of 15 million people aspired to become the world's sixth-largest grain exporter after selling 5.5 million tons of wheat from this year's expected harvest of 12.5 million tons.

A Kazakh government official who was present at the talks with Yanukovych on Monday said Kazakh Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov had said Kazakh grain exports to Ukraine could hit 1.3 million tons.

"But Akhmetov said politely that Kazakhstan wanted payment in cash for its grain," he added.

Yanukovych initially proposed repaying Kazakhstan with Ukrainian grain from next year's harvest.

Yanukovych said a similar plan had been agreed upon with Russia, whose exporters would take Ukrainian grain at the Black Sea port of Odessa next year.