LAST UPDATE: 21.35
In a ceremony in which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gave triumphant – for his domestic electoral audience – tones, the agreement to export millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and fertilizers via of the Black Sea, which was reached after weeks of negotiations under the auspices of the UN.
On the Russian side, the agreement was signed by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. On the Ukrainian side, the Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov signed.
The agreement was signed in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.
“Today, there is a beacon in the Black Sea. A beacon of hope (and) possibility… and relief in a world that needs it more than ever,” Guterres said at the signing ceremony, calling on Russia and Ukraine to fully implement the agreement.
Erdogan said the agreement, which was also signed by Turkey, would help prevent famine and reduce global food inflation.
Russia and Ukraine are both the world’s main suppliers of wheat, but Russia’s February 24 invasion of their neighbor cut off much of Kiev’s exports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and some 25 million tons of grain blocked in its port. Odessa.
The crisis has sent food prices skyrocketing internationally and is intensifying fears of an international food crisis.
For their part, the Turkish media are promoting the news as “an unprecedented crisis resolved in Turkey” projecting it as a personal success for Erdogan.
In the same pattern and the statements of Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, who in a post on Twitter on Thursday said: “Our diplomatic efforts under the leadership of our President are yielding results. Tomorrow, we will take the first step towards the solution of of the food crisis affecting the entire world, together with the UN Secretary General, the delegations of Russia and Ukraine, in Istanbul. We will continue our efforts to resolve the conflict.”
The terms of the agreement
Establishment of a coordination and control center based in Istanbul
The center will be attended by representatives of the three sides, one Ukrainian, one Russian, one Turkish, as well as a representative of the United Nations and their teams. It will be tasked with drawing up the Black Sea vessel rotation schedule. According to experts involved in the negotiations, it will take another three to four weeks to complete the preparations and start its operation.
Carrying out inspections of ships upon their departure from Ukrainian ports and upon their arrival in Turkey
The inspection of the ships that will transport the cargoes of grain was a requirement of Moscow that wanted to exclude the parallel transfer of weapons to Ukraine. For practical reasons, the inspections will not take place at sea, a possibility that had been considered, but in Turkey, most likely in Istanbul, which has two important commercial ports, Haydarpasa, at the entrance to the Bosphorus, and Ambarli, on the Sea of Marmara. Inspections will be made by representatives of the four sides during disembarkation and disembarkation.
Safe shipping lanes
Russians and Ukrainians pledge to respect the shipping lanes that will cross the Black Sea and be excluded from any military activity. Under the agreement, if demining is needed, it will have to be done by a “third country” – other than the three involved – which has not been defined. When leaving Ukraine, the ships will be escorted by Ukrainian (presumably warships) vessels, paving the way to the exit from Ukrainian territorial waters.
Four-month renewable power
The agreement will be valid for four months and will be automatically renewed. If 20 to 25 tons of grain are currently blocked in the silos of Ukrainian ports, with a transfer rate of 8 tons per month, four months will be enough to transfer all the stocks and empty the silos.
Memorandum on Russian grain and fertilizers
A memorandum accompanying the agreement signed by the UN and Russia will guarantee that Western sanctions against Moscow will not directly or indirectly affect grain and fertilizer. This provision is a condition sine qua non for the signing of the agreement by Moscow.
Ukraine: Immediate military response “in case of Russian provocations”
“Regarding the Istanbul agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain. First: Ukraine does not sign any document with Russia. We sign an agreement with Turkey and the UN and undertake obligations towards them. Russia signs a mirror agreement with Turkey and the UN,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief adviser Mykhailo Podoliak wrote on his Twitter account.
According to him, “no transport escort from Russian ships and no presence of representatives of Russia in our ports. In case of provocations, immediate military response”.
The White House is urging the Russians to quickly implement the deal
The US today called on Russia to “quickly” implement the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
“We expect the implementation of the agreement (signed today by the two countries) to begin soon so that the most vulnerable people on this planet are not plunged into deeper insecurity and malnutrition,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters. .
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