The countries signed separate agreements with Turkey and the United Nations, clearing the way for exporting millions of tons of desperately needed grain around the world.
Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements Friday with Turkey and the United Nations clearing the way for the export of millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain — as well as some Russian grain and fertilizer — across the Black Sea. The long-sought deal ends a wartime standoff that has threatened food security around the globe.
The U.N. plan will enable Ukraine — one of the world’s key breadbaskets — to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to Russia’s invasion. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it “a beacon of hope” for millions of hungry people who have faced huge increases in the price of food.
“A deal that allows grain to leave Black Sea ports is nothing short of lifesaving for people across the world who are struggling to feed their families,” said Red Cross Director-General Robert Mardini. He noted that over the past six months, prices for food have risen 187% in Sudan, 86% in Syria and 60% in Yemen, just to name a few countries.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate, identical deals Friday with Guterres and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar at a ceremony in Istanbul that was witnessed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russia and Ukraine would not sign any deal directly with each other.
“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” Guterres said. “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”
“You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all,” he told the envoys.
Guterres described the deal as an unprecedented agreement between two parties engaged in a bloody conflict. Erdogan hoped it would be “a new turning point that will revive hopes for peace.”
Yet in Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sounded a more somber note.