UPDATE 2-Russian-held part of south Ukraine aims to sell grain to Middle East - TASS

·2 min read

(Adds comment about upcoming supply of railcars, grain in stockpile, paragraphs 9-11)

July 5 (Reuters) - Russian-installed authorities in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, partly under Russian control, said on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached to sell grain abroad, mainly to the Middle East, Russian state news agency TASS said.

Ukraine has accused Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, of stealing grain from territories that Russia's army has seized. Moscow denies this. The war has disrupted Ukraine's grain exports via the Black Sea.

TASS cited Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Russian-installed administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, as saying the planned deals included sales to Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He said there was a contract to supply 150,000 tonnes of grain to Iran, adding that Russian agricultural traders and state companies were buying grain from the region's farmers.

Reuters could not verify this statement.

"The prices are not bad at the moment," Balitsky told TASS.

"A farmer gets around $200 per tonne of grain, which is great, because his cost of production is around $120, even taking into account the long storage time, which was forced," he said.

Prices for Russian wheat with 12.5% protein content and for supply from Black Sea ports stood at $375 per tonne free on board (FOB) at the end of last week.

The region will get 300 railcars to speed up grain supply from Russia this week in addition to deliveries by trucks, Balitsky said.

"The railway is not yet operating in very large volumes, we only had 11 railcars until recently," he said, adding that the process at the checkpoints to Crimea has been simplified.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

According to Balitsky, the region had about 1.5 million tonnes of grain in storage before the recent beginning of this year's harvest.

(Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Louise Heavens, Robert Birsel)