Ukraine and Russia have inked “mirror” agreements allowing Kyiv to begin grain shipments across the Black Sea.
The accord will permit the transfer of millions of tonnes of grain now stranded in Ukraine due to the fighting.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a global food scarcity has put millions at danger of starvation.
However, Kiev refused to sign a formal agreement with Moscow and warned that “provocations” would be addressed with “rapid military action.”
Both parties were present at the signing ceremony in Istanbul, although they did not share a table. First, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and then Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed their respective agreements.
The agreement, which took two months to complete, will endure for 120 days, and a co-ordination and monitoring centre will be formed in Istanbul with UN, Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian representatives. It may be renewed with mutual consent.
The embargo of Ukraine’s grain has generated a worldwide food crisis, since wheat-based items such as bread and pasta, as well as cooking oils and fertilizer, have become more costly.
The United States urged Russia to respond swiftly, with White House spokesman John Kirby stating that it was required “to avoid the world’s most vulnerable from slipping into greater instability and starvation.”
Mr. Shoigu said previously at a press conference that the agreement might provide “the solutions to begin this process in the next days.”
“I’m not only talking about exporting agricultural items from Ukrainian ports, but also exporting agricultural products and fertilizers from Russian ports,” he continued.
Under the parameters of the agreement, Russia would not strike ports while goods are in route, according to officials.
Ukrainian warships will navigate cargo ships across mined waterways.
To relieve Russian worries of arms smuggling, Turkey – backed by the United Nations – will check ships. This will allow Russian shipments of grain and fertilizer over the Black Sea.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, told Orla Guerin of the BBC that it was perhaps the most significant action he has taken as leader of the world organization.
“There is a beacon on the Black Sea today,” he told the Istanbul crowd. A symbol of hope.
The limitations on export routes for Ukrainian grain
Images reveal proof of grain theft in Russia
How much grain remains in Ukraine?
The potential of releasing more than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain caused a two percent decline in wheat prices on Friday.
VIDEO OF DEAL SIGNING:
In his Friday evening speech, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the government has around $10 billion (£8.3 billion) worth of grain to sell.
Nonetheless, he also cautioned Moscow “may participate in provocations and attempts to undermine international and Ukrainian initiatives. We have faith in the United Nations “, stating that it was up to the UN to ensure the agreement.
But Mr. Guterres confessed to the BBC that the UN lacked the ability to punish Russia if it breached the agreement, adding that it would be “an extremely terrible scandal to which the whole world community would respond with great force.”
After signing the agreement, Mr. Shoigu told reporters that Russia had “assumed the duties” and would “not take advantage of the fact that the ports would be freed and opened.”
Russia has consistently denied blockading Ukrainian ports; instead, it accuses Ukraine for planting mines at sea and Western sanctions for reducing Russia’s exports.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blasted the West and Ukraine for the “completely baseless” charges in a column intended at African publications. He lauded the “balanced attitude of the Africans on the current situation in Ukraine and its environs.”
Ukraine, on the other hand, asserts that the Russian navy stops it from transporting grain and other products, and accuses Russian occupation troops of taking food from Ukrainian fields.
Anne Soy of the BBC in Nairobi, Kenya, said that the grain export pact will also be a great comfort to the Horn of Africa. Drought, the Covid-19 outbreak, an unique locust invasion, and the conflict in Ukraine have all contributed to the region’s present severe food shortages.
The head of the US development agency, Samantha Power, described the agreement as “a crucial piece of the jigsaw” in resolving the situation in the area.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, who has played a vital role in the discussions, expressed optimism that the agreement will be the first step toward ending the conflict.
“We believe that our united action with the Ukraine and Russia can reinvigorate the route to peace,” he added.
Mr. Guterres was less optimistic, stating, “I see no prerequisites for a peace process at this time.”
Analysis box by Pauli Adams, Antonio Guterres, diplomatic reporter, said that it was uncommon for two sides in a brutal battle to come to a compromise of this kind.
President Erdogan predicted that it may pave the way for moves to stop the conflict entirely.
In spite of today’s encouraging indicators, a broader agreement seems to be a distant prospect. In recent days, Russia has signalled that it may once again be inclined to extend its war objectives, while in Kiev, there is debate of when and where Ukraine may launch a counteroffensive.
The introduction of advanced Western technology has sparked confidence in the Ukraine. Richard Moore, chief of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service MI6, said yesterday that Russia’s campaign will soon lose momentum, allowing Ukraine to fight back. If there is to be a broader peace process after the Istanbul agreement, it seems that only President Erdogan is now discussing it.