The recent agreements in Istanbul, Turkey between Russia and Ukraine to release some 20 million tons of grain stuck in the latter’s Black Sea ports have cleared the way for exporting millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain.
They also gave the go-ahead in guaranteeing Russian exports of its grain and fertilizers.
Immediately, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the agreement would help ease a global food crisis.
If the deal holds – and many, including the Philippines, hold high hopes — it could alleviate the global food crisis and bring down soaring grain prices.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate deals with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
Russia and Ukaraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN, clearing the way for exporting millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain – as well as Russian grain and fertilizer – ending a wartime standoff that had threatened global food security.
Guterres said during the signing: “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.”
Addressing both Russian and Ukrainian representatives, he added: “You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all.”
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country in February this year and eventual naval blockade of its ports have halted shipments.
Some grain is being transported through Europe by rail, road and river, but the prices of vital commodities like wheat and barley have soared during the nearly five-month war.
The grain export agreement makes provisions for the safe passage of ships and foresees the establishment of a control center in Istanbul, to be staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials, to run and coordinate the process, according to Turkish officials.
Ships would undergo inspections to ensure they are not carrying weapons, with Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky insisting that no Russian ship would escort vessels and that there would be no Russian representative present at Ukrainian ports.