Russia and Ukraine Reach Agreement on Ukrainian Grain Exports

Russia and Ukraine Reach Agreement on Ukrainian Grain Exports
Russia and Ukraine Reach Agreement on Ukrainian Wheat Exports at the Meeting in Turkey

Istanbul - Turkey says Ukraine and Russia have reached an agreement to reopen Ukraine's Black Sea ports and release Ukrainian grain exports. Both will sign the agreement in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday (22/7/2022).

After nearly two months of tough negotiations, Ukrainian and Russian officials are expected to sign the Black Sea port deal at a ceremony at Istanbul's Dolmabahce Palace in the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

It marks the first major deal between the warring parties since Russia's invasion of its neighbor in February and comes as global food prices soar and people in some of the world's poorest countries face starvation.

The first direct talks between military delegations of the warring parties since March, attended in Istanbul last week by Turkish and UN officials, resulted in preliminary drafts to resolve the impasse. The two sides are supposed to meet again this week for the possibility of signing a formal agreement.

However, on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to derail the talks by warning that he hoped for any deal to tackle grain exports his own country blocked.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has also been secretive about the possibility of a deal being reached, claiming that authorities in Kiev are blocking talks. A five-month war is being waged in one of Europe's most fertile regions by the world's two largest grain producers.

Almost all grain is usually shipped overseas across the Black Sea. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday acknowledged Putin's concerns. "When we resolve this issue, not only will the export route for wheat and sunflower oil be opened from Ukraine, but also for products from Russia," he said.

"Even if these Russian products are not subject to sanctions, there are obstacles related to sea transportation, insurance and the banking system," Cavusoglu added. "The United States and the European Union have promised to repeal this," he was quoted as saying by Euronews.

Turkey has enjoyed good working relations with Moscow and Kiev throughout the conflict. A member of the Kiev delegation for negotiations said shipments could resume from three ports under Ukraine's full control.

"Exports will be carried out through three ports: Odesa, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk. But in the future we hope we can expand it," Ukrainian lawmaker Rustem Umerov told reporters.

He added that the safety of the shipments would be overseen by an Istanbul-based UN monitoring group. Umerov also said that Russian ships should not be allowed into Ukrainian waters as part of the anticipated deal. "We don't trust them, even if they sign an agreement with the United Nations. It is an aggressor state," he said.

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