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Agreement on renewing Ukraine grain exports highly probable: Turkish officials

Officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations will most likely meet this week to discuss resuming Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, according to the Turkish Minister of Defence.

Last week Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN would sign a deal this week on the grain exports corridor after talks in Istanbul. But UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the end of the war was still a far-off prospect.

Nonetheless, renewing Ukrainian grain exports is vital to avoid a global food crisis, as many countries in places such as Africa rely very heavily on imported grain. Prices of grains and other food products soared following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Both countries are major producers of foodstuffs, especially wheat, but the Russian naval blockade of the Black Sea has paralysed Ukrainian ability to export its grain. Some 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos at Odesa. Therefore, any step towards ensuring global food security, which might trigger a massive famine and another migration crisis, is welcome by the international community.

“An agreement was reached on a plan, general principles for shipping grain and food products […] A meeting on this within the week is probable,” Minister Akar said on Monday. He also said that the negotiations include on their agenda such technical matters as forming a monitoring centre in Istanbul, identifying safe routes, and checkpoints at port exits and entries.

Another senior Turkish official told Reuters there was a high probability the four sides of the negotiations would sign a deal this week.

“However, there are a couple of small problems. Negotiations continue to overcome these,” said the official, adding that any positive steps were affected by an attack and other significant developments in the war. “But there is a general expectation that it will be signed this week. I am quite optimistic. It won’t take long before a final agreement is reached.”

A Kremlin aide told reporters on Monday that the leaders of Russia and Turkey would discuss the issue during their meeting in Tehran on Tuesday.

Russia trade in stolen Ukrainian grain

The Spanish “El Pais” daily established that satellite imagery confirms at least 16 Russian cargo ships have delivered grain stolen by Russian invaders in Ukraine to ports around the world. The ships passed through the Bosphorus Strait and were delivered primarily to Syria, as well as several other ports in the Mediterranean as well as the Red Sea.

In order to avoid detection, Russian ships have turned off their localisation beacons, which are mandated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and turn them on only shortly before passing from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean via the Turkish Straits.

The Spanish daily cites the Ukrainian government and international activists monitoring and analysing satellite images as the source. According to Kyiv Russia has stolen over 500,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain, which is then taken to Russia or to the occupied Crimea, where it is exported through the ports located on the peninsula.

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