Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, increasing hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion can be eased.
peaking at the signing ceremony in Istanbul, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the deal opens the way to significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.
According to Reuters, senior U.N. officials said the deal was expected to be fully operational in a few weeks and would restore grain shipments from the three reopened ports to pre-war levels of 5 million tonnes a month.
Safe passage into and out of the ports would be guaranteed in what one official called a “de facto ceasefire” for the ships and facilities covered, they said, although the word “ceasefire” was not in the agreement text.
Though Ukraine has mined nearby offshore areas as part of its defenses against Russia’s five-month-old invasion, Ukrainian pilots would guide ships along safe channels in its territorial waters, they said.
Monitored by a Joint Coordination Center based in Istanbul, the ships would then transit the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus strait and proceed to world markets.
The aim is to help avert famine among tens of millions of people in poorer nations by injecting more wheat, sunflower oil, fertilizer and other products into world markets including for humanitarian needs, partly at lower prices.