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‘Mirror’ agreements to keep food on the table Kyiv and Moscow sign deals in Istanbul, laying the groundwork for the reopening of some Ukrainian ports and the resumption of grain exports
Senior officials from Ukraine and Russia traveled to Istanbul on Friday to endorse a compromise that is designed to restore the export of agricultural goods from Ukrainian ports and alleviate pressure on the world’s food supply. Kyiv and Moscow did not agree to anything bilaterally; each nation instead signed its own agreement with Turkey and the United Nations. Ukraine has agreed to the removal of some of the mines guarding its ports, while the Russian military has vowed not to exploit the opened sea lanes.
According to the state media, Russia’s agreement stipulates the following conditions:
- Grain will be exported from three ports: Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhne.
- The agreements have a 120-day lifespan, but extending the arrangement is possible.
- Ukraine will not remove the mines protecting its ports. Instead, cargo ships will travel without naval escort through safe clearways.
- To monitor compliance with the agreements, the signatories will establish a coordination center in Istanbul with the participation of representatives of Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine. This entity will be responsible for resolving any disputes that might arise.
- Ships headed for Ukraine’s ports will be inspected for any weapons. Representatives from Moscow will have access to these inspections.
Kyiv published the entirety of its agreement with Turkey and the UN. The only difference from what the Russian state media has reported about Moscow’s agreement appears to be that Ukraine agreed to remove mines around its ports “as needed.” This work will be performed by minesweepers operated by a third nation in coordination with both Ukraine and Russia. Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın also confirmed this information.
Without stating explicitly that the agreements stipulate demining Ukraine’s ports, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Moscow has “undertaken clearly defined obligations” and “will not exploit the fact that ports here will be demined and opened.” He added that Russia also signed a memorandum in parallel to Friday’s agreement in which the UN will lift restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to global markets.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres heralded the agreement to reopen Ukraine ports as “a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, and a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.” On Twitter, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles called the agreements “a critical step in overcoming the global food insecurity caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
Ukrainian officials estimate that the resumption of grain exports could inject the economy with as much as $1 billion per month.
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