Ukraine hopes to export millions of tons of grain to implement an UN-brokered deal with Moscow in Turkey despite Russia’s missile strikes in Odessa.
Ukraine hopes to start implementing a deal to export millions of tons of grain from blockaded Black Sea ports this week, despite Russian missile strikes on the key port city of Odessa threatening to undermine the deal.
Among the preparations, they mention the demining of essential areas for maritime traffic and the creation of special naval corridors for the safe passage of merchant ships, as well as the creation of a coordination center in Istanbul, where the agreement would have been signed, negotiated by the UN and Turkey. last Friday.
It is seen moving forward, despite the Odessa attacks, which Ukraine sees as a violation of Russia’s promise not to attack grain infrastructure and call into question the entire agreement mentioned above. For their part, Russian spokesmen say that the target of the attack was Ukraine’s military infrastructure in the port.
“Hopefully, it will be implemented in the next few days when the special coordination center is open in . . . Istanbul,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kurbakov said at a briefing on Monday. “Sometime this week, we expect this whole process to start,” says the Financial Times.
The speaker highlighted the importance of exports for Ukraine’s economy and described the free export of grains as “a matter of survival” for Ukraine’s agricultural sector, which in turn is the second largest contributor to the European country’s economy.
“In these dire economic circumstances, it is important for Ukraine to earn foreign exchange through unblocking ports,” he mentions. He added that this brings $1 billion into the country’s budget per month, citing data from the Ministry of Finance and the national bank.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late Monday that Ankara was committed to ending the deal and that work was continuing on those to be based in Istanbul.
“We can see how sensitive the process is with the attack on the port of Odessa on Saturday,” Erdogan said in an interview with state broadcaster TRT, the Financial Times states. It also mentions that “We are saddened that this is happening, and a failure here will be to the detriment of all” and that “We expect everyone to keep their signatures and act in accordance with the responsibilities they have assumed and avoid actions that are contrary to the words and spirit of the agreement”.
Russia’s navy has blocked Ukraine’s trade sea routes since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to invade Ukraine when it launched missile strikes on its ports and grain storage infrastructure and attacked civilian grain shipping ships.
Thus trapping almost 22 million tons of wheat, corn, and other grains in the country, and the conflict leaving 47 million people around the world at risk of acute hunger, according to the World Food Program.
Supposedly, this agreement should introduce a “de facto ceasefire” with Ukraine and Russia agreeing not to attack merchant ships, civilian ships, or port facilities covered by the agreement.
Clearance of sea lanes would also be difficult, Kurbakov notes. Even mines from World War II were detected, he says. “All the ships will be transported by ships from the Ministry of Infrastructure that will lead the way and it will not be an easy process,” adds the spokesperson.
Speaking on a visit Sunday to Egypt, which has historically relied on Ukraine and Russia for most of its wheat imports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, tried to counter accusations that Moscow had been “exporting hunger” with his blockade of the Black Sea.
For his part, Lavrov will also have more details about the agreement, saying that it would be implemented through a coordination center in Istanbul, where Ukraine would be “engaged in demining, allowing ships to go out into the open sea” and ” Russia, Turkey and one other participant to be determined, [will escort] the ship to the Bosphorus [Strait],” the Financial Times assures.
Source: Financial Times
Additional information Ayla Jean Yackley in Ankara