Russia and Ukraine Sign Agreement on Grain Exports
Sitting at separate tables last Friday, officials from Russia and Ukraine signed a United Nations-backed deal to resume grain exports via the Black Sea. It is important to note that the agreement does not include a ceasefire.
The agreement, signed in Istanbul and brokered by the Turkish government, is great news for countries struggling with food shortages and represents the first major act of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine following the invasion in February. Over the coming weeks, the deal will see the delivery of millions of tons of wheat that had been stuck in Ukraine due to the conflict with Moscow.
Russia will also resume suspended grain exports as part of the deal.
The abrupt cessation in grain exports from both countries had sparked price increases and concerns of famine in recent months (read more on that here) and the new agreement – if upheld – is expected to aid billions of people.
In signing the agreement, Moscow has promised to facilitate the unimpeded export of food, sunflower oil, and fertilizers. What this means is that Russian vessels that had previously blocked grain from leaving Ukrainian ports located on the Black Sea will now be escorting enemy vessels through mined waters. Turkish officials will be on site to inspect the shipments for weapons smuggling.
“We are proud to be instrumental in an initiative that will play a major role in solving global food crisis that has been on the agenda for a long time,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was present at the signing ceremony in Istanbul.
Many fear Russia will fail to uphold its end of the deal, however, following an attack on Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa that occurred shortly after the deal was signed.
“It took less than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile attack on Odesa’s part, breaking its promises and undermining its commitments before the UN and Turkey under the Istanbul agreement,” argues Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko. “In case of non-fulfillment, Russia will bear full responsibility for a global food crisis.”