According to the office of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, a deal to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports will be signed on Friday by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Both Russia and Ukraine are significant global exporters of wheat, but Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour on February 24 has driven up food prices and sparked a global food crisis. Twenty million tonnes of grain are blocked in silos at Odesa port and dozens of ships are stranded due to the war’s impact on Kyiv’s exports.
Ankara said that a general understanding on a U.N.-led plan had been achieved during negotiations in Istanbul last week and that the parties will now put it in writing. The agreement’s specifics were not immediately revealed. According to Erdogan’s office, it will be signed on Friday at 13:30 GMT at the Dolmabahce Palace offices.
Moscow didn’t confirm anything.
Additionally, no agreement was confirmed by the Ukrainian government. Another round of negotiations to open up Ukrainian grain exports will be led by the U.N. and take place in Turkey on Friday, the foreign ministry announced late on Thursday.
Hulusi Akar, the minister of defence for Turkey, stated last week that the upcoming agreement will involve shared controls for inspecting ships in harbours. Along with Ukraine, Russia, and the UN, Turkey would establish a coordination centre for grain exports.
Prior to the July 13 negotiations, officials said specifics of the plan included Ukrainian vessels guiding grain ships through mined port waters; Russia agreeing to a ceasefire while shipments advance; and Turkey – assisted by the United Nations – inspecting ships to alleviate Russian fears of weapons smuggling.
The United States praised the agreement and stated that it was concentrating on keeping Russia responsible for carrying it through.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said, ‘We shouldn’t have been in this position in the first place. The Russian Federation deliberately decided to weaponize food in this way.’
Two months have passed since the United Nations and Turkey began negotiating what Guterres referred to as a ‘package’ agreement to resume Ukrainian grain exports to the Black Sea and facilitate Russian grain and fertiliser supplies.
Taras Vysotskiy, Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister, suggested earlier on Thursday that exports would soon resume.
‘The majority of the infrastructure of the wider Odesa ports — there are three of them — survives, so if there are adequate security assurances, it will be a matter of many weeks,’ he said to Ukrainian television.
Moscow has rejected claims that it is to blame for the escalating food crisis, citing instead the Western sanctions’ chilling effect for reducing its own exports of food and fertiliser and Ukraine’s mining of its Black Sea ports.
The United States tried to encourage Russian exports of food and fertiliser the day following the negotiations in Istanbul last week by assuring banks, shipping, and insurance companies that such transactions wouldn’t violate Washington’s sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.