Kyiv and Moscow Sign Deal to Restart Grain Exports from Black Sea Ports

Photo credit: Reuters

Ukraine and Russia signed a deal backed by the United Nations to allow for the export of millions of tonnes of grain from blockaded Black Sea ports. 

The new deal will potentially help avert the threat of a catastrophic global food crisis. 

There was a signing ceremony on Friday at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan played a key role in months of tense negotiations. 

After the deal was signed, Gutierrez said the deal would open up grain exports from Ukraine, and the United Nations would ensure its success. 

Gutierrez said “the beacon of hope was shining bright in the Black Sea” in order to alleviate a parallel food and economic crisis in the developing world. He called on Russia and Ukraine to fully implement the accord. 

It is hoped that the deal will secure the passage of grain and essential goods from three Ukrainian ports, even as the war continues to rage within the country. 

It also aims to ensure the safe passage of Russian-made fertilizer products, which are essential for future high yields on crops, another effort to hopefully ease a global food crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

UN officials said they hoped shipments could begin as soon as tomorrow, Saturday. They hope the shipments will reach prewar levels of export within weeks. 

A coalition of Turkish, Ukrainian and UN staff will monitor the loading of grain onto vessels in Ukrainian ports before it is sent on a pre-planned route through the Black Sea. 

Commercial vessels transporting the grain will be guided by Ukrainian pilot vessels in order to navigate the mined areas around the coastline using a map of safe channels provided by Ukraine. 

Vessels will then cross the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosporus Strait, monitored by a joint coordination center in Istanbul with representatives from the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey. 

Ships coming into Ukraine will be inspected under supervision of that same joint coordination center, making sure there are no weapons or other items on board to attack Ukraine. 

Russia and Ukraine have agreed to withhold attacks on any commercial vessels or ports engaged in the grain deal. UN and Turkish monitors will be present at the Ukrainian ports as a part of the accord. 

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