In an effort to avert a food crisis, warring European countries, Ukraine and Russia, have struck an agreement to sign a contract on Saturday for the safe transfer of Ukrainian grain.
This will be the first major agreement struck by the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, February 24.
Reports have shown that Ukrainian and Russian delegations, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will meet in Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, tomorrow for the signing ceremony.
Turkish President’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, Friday, described the deal as “critically important for global food security.”
The deal will allow tens of millions of tons of grain stuck at Ukrainian ships and silos to be sold to world markets through a safe shipping corridor in the Black Sea.
The Russian invasion has paused grain exports from Ukraine, one of the leading bread baskets of the world, stocking grain prices across the world despite terrible warnings of a looming food crisis by the international community.
The face-to-face talks began in Istanbul last week between the Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and UN officials.
Turkey’s defense minister announced that the parties agreed on “fundamental technical” issues including establishment of a coordination centre in Istanbul; joint security checks at entering and exiting points of ships; and ensuring navigational safety on shipping routes.
Officials have not elaborated the details of the deal.
Moscow has insisted Ukraine remove mines from its ports for the resumption of the exports.
Ukraine, in turn, has asked for third-party security guarantees, saying removing mines without such a guarantee could pave the way for Russian assaults on its shores.
The United States cautiously hailed the deal, with the US State Department spokesman describing the move as a welcoming development.
“But what will really matter is the implementation of this agreement. We will of course continue to work with our partners to hold Russia accountable for its implementation,” Ned Price said.
“We applaud the diligent work of our Turkish allies,” says US department spokesperson.