Russia and Ukraine are supposed to sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for grain exports, Turkey said, raising hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by Russia’s invasion can be eased.
Ukraine and Russia, both among the world’s largest food exporters, did not immediately confirm Thursday’s announcement made by the office of the Turkish presidency. But in a late-night video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hinted that his country’s Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked.
#Ukraine has agreed to partially de-mine its ports in the Black Sea, sources told @nytimes.
According to them, #Kyiv is ready to take this step as part of a deal to export #Ukrainian grain. pic.twitter.com/NCO4kEFx1C
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) July 22, 2022
The blockade by Russia’s Black Sea fleet has worsened global supply chain disruptions, along with Western sanctions imposed on Moscow. These, in turn, have caused high inflation in food and energy prices.
Mr Zelenskyy, whose recent address focused mainly on Ukrainian forces’ potential to make gains on the battlefield, said that “tomorrow we also expect news for our state from Turkey – regarding the unblocking of our ports.”
Full details of the deal were not immediately released. It is due to be signed at 13:30 GMT on Friday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said.
⚡️Turkey says agreement on grain export from Ukraine to be signed on July 22.
The Office of the President of Turkey said on July 21 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be present during the signing, Turkish Yeni Safak reports.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) July 21, 2022
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres headed for Turkey to be present during the signing of the deal.
Moscow has denied responsibility for the worsening food crisis, blaming instead the chilling effect of Western sanctions for slowing its own food and fertiliser exports and Ukraine for mining its Black Sea ports.
US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price said Washington would focus on holding Moscow accountable for carrying out the agreement.
A ‘package’ deal
The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what the UN Secretary-General called a “package” deal – to restore Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports while facilitating Russian grain and fertiliser shipments.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the 27-nation European Union had proposed to ease some earlier sanctions in a bid to safeguard global food security, and Moscow hoped this would create conditions for the unhindered export of grain and fertilisers.
The deal will be signed by the Russian Defence Minister and the Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister.
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