Russia, Ukraine seal landmark grain deal in Turkiye

Published July 23, 2022
UN SECRETARY General Antonio Guterres (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend the signature ceremony on Friday.—AFP
UN SECRETARY General Antonio Guterres (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend the signature ceremony on Friday.—AFP

ISTANBUL: Kyiv and Moscow on Friday penned a landmark agreement with Turkiye and the United Nations Friday to unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports after a Russian blockade raised fears of a global food crisis.

In their first major deal after nearly five months of fighting, Russian and Ukrainian delegations signed individual agreements with Ankara and the UN in the wake of several rounds of laborious negotiations.

Ukraine had warned ahead of the signing that any Russian “provocations” around its encircled Black Sea ports would be met with a swift military response and refused to pen the same papers as Moscow.

“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea — a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said at the signing ceremony in the lavish Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus Strait.

UN chief terms accord a beacon of hope, possibility and relief

The deal agreed through UN and Turkish mediation establishes safe corridors along which Ukrainian ships can come in and out of three designated Black Sea ports in and around Odessa.

And both sides also pledged not to attack ships on the way in or out.

“It will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine,” Guterres said.

Path to peace

The five-month war, which has displaced millions and left thousands dead, is being fought across one of Europe’s most fertile regions by two of the world’s biggest grain producers.

Up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

“Today’s Istanbul agreement is a step in the right direction. We call for its swift implementation,” tweeted the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a key player in the negotiations who has good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv — said he hoped the deal would “hopefully revive the path to peace”.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss congratulated Turkiye and UN for brokering the deal but cautioned “we will be watching to ensure Russia’s actions match its words”.

Earlier, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak explained the two sides would sign “mirror” agreements.

“We sign an agreement with Turkiye and the UN and undertake obligations to them. Russia signs a mirror agreement with Turkiye and the UN,” he said on social media. He warned that Russian breaches of the deal and incursions around Ukraine’s ports would be met with “an immediate military response”.

Diplomats expect grain to start fully flowing for the first time since Russia’s invasion of its Western-backed neighbour by the middle of August.

Ukrainian farmers

Still, news of the deal earlier drew scepticism from Ukrainian farmers under pressure in the war-battered south where storage facilities are rapidly filling and local prices for grain tanking.

“It gives some hope but you can’t believe what the Russians say,” said Mykola Zaverukha, a farmer with some 13,000 tonnes of grain waiting for export.

“Russia is unreliable, they have shown themselves to be year after year,” he said in the southern Mykolaiv region.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Iran’s counterstrike
Updated 15 Apr, 2024

Iran’s counterstrike

Israel, by attacking Iran’s diplomatic facilities and violating Syrian airspace, is largely responsible for this dangerous situation.
Opposition alliance
15 Apr, 2024

Opposition alliance

AFTER the customary Ramazan interlude, political activity has resumed as usual. A ‘grand’ opposition alliance ...
On the margins
15 Apr, 2024

On the margins

IT appears that we are bent upon taking the majoritarian path. Thus, the promise of respect and equality for the...
Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...