Russia and Ukraine have agreed a solution with the United Nations and Turkey for the export of millions of tons of grain from war-torn Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine separately signed corresponding agreements in Istanbul, mediated by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Before the Russian war of aggression, Ukraine was one of the most important grain exporters in the world.
The government in Kyiv had refused to sign the same document as the Moscow representative because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled from Moscow to sign the agreement, and Infrastructure Minister Olexander Kubrakov from Kyiv.
The agreements are therefore initially valid for 120 days, but are to be extended. According to the information, the Ukraine deal regulates exports via the ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yushni. The mines in the waters around Ukraine are not to be cleared because such an operation would be too time-consuming. Instead, Ukrainian pilots are supposed to navigate the ships safely past the explosive devices.
The parties also agreed that ships bound for Ukraine would first be searched in Istanbul. This is to make sure they don't have guns loaded or anything like that. There should be another check in Turkey when the ships return from the Black Sea.
"Beacon of Hope"
At the signing ceremony, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expected grain exports to start soon. "With the shipping traffic starting in the coming days, we will open a new airway from the Black Sea to many countries around the world," said Erdogan. It is a "historic day". However, the UN expects that the implementation of the agreement will take a few more weeks.
Guterres said during the signing ceremony that the agreement was a "beacon of hope". It will bring relief to developing countries and starving people.
EU Council President Charles Michel welcomed the solution. "This agreement can benefit millions of people around the world," he wrote on Twitter. Consistent implementation is now of the utmost importance.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke of a "step in the right direction". At the same time, he called for the agreement to be implemented quickly. The EU is determined to support the export of Ukrainian grain. "Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine is putting millions of people at risk of starvation."