Wednesday 4 October 2023

Russia, Ukraine sign UN-backed Black Sea grain exports deal

ANKARA (Turkey), July 23, 2022

Russia and Ukraine on Friday signed a UN-backed deal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
The agreement, which will be implemented in the next few weeks, was signed in the Turkish city of Istanbul and was brokered by the government in Ankara, reported CNBC.
Millions of tonnes of wheat have been stuck in the war-torn nation. Grain exporters in Ukrainian port cities like Odesa have been unable to ship their goods due to the conflict, fueling a global shortage of the commodity and pushing up food prices.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters, and Russian forces have been blocking the Black Sea, where the grain silos at key Ukrainian ports are located.
The Bosporus and Dardanelles are the only water routes in or out of the Black Sea. That gives Turkey influence over how Russia’s navy can move.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was in attendance along with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russian and Ukrainian officials sat at separate tables to sign the documents.
The deal is significant for global food supplies, but also as it’s the first major agreement between the two sides since Moscow launched it’s unprovoked onslaught on February 24.
The breakthrough followed months of negotiations, and promises to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds -- some of Ukraine's most important exports, reported CNN.
The deal will also allow the unimpeded access of Russian fertilizers to global markets. Russia is a major producer of fertilizers, which are vital to maximizing food production, and the cost of the product has spiralled since the invasion.
"Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope -- a beacon of possibility -- a beacon of relief -- in a world that needs it more than ever," stated the report citing Guterres.
"Promoting the welfare of humanity has been the driving force of these talks," he said. "The question has not been what is good for one side or the other. The focus has been on what matters most for the people of our world. And let there be no doubt -- this is an agreement for the world," he added.
While the details of the deal are currently unknown, it was expected to allow Ukrainian vessels to guide ships through mined waters, with a localized truce in place so Russia does not attack. Turkish officials are also expected to inspect the shipments to rule out any weapons smuggling.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "millions of people will be relieved of this danger of hunger" as a result of the deal.
"In the coming days we will see the start of ship traffic and many countries will have a breath of fresh air," Erdogan said.
International onlookers are however cautious on the deal and Russia will be closely watched to make sure it upholds its side of the agreement. Moscow, which blames Ukraine for laying the mines, is also expected to restart its own grain exports in the Black Sea under the agreement.


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