Moscow, Kiev and Ankara Reach Grain Agreement in Istanbul

Observateur Continental
Negotiations on the export of Ukrainian grain from the part of the Black Sea controlled by the Ukrainian army took place in Istanbul. Military delegations from Russia, Turkey and Ukraine as well as representatives of the UN came to Istanbul to discuss the food crisis.

So what is the substance of the planned agreements?

Grain has been accumulating in Ukrainian ports since February 24. According to the UN, about 4.5 million tons of product are waiting to be shipped to Ukraine. However, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about 20 million tons of blocked grain, while the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has overbid with 25 million tons.

According to Western politicians, Russia is preventing Ukrainian grain deliveries to world markets. However, Moscow categorically refutes such accusations. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out, Ukraine itself has undermined its ports through which the transport could have been carried out.

As reported by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the meeting, “which took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere”, agreed on the main technical issues such as the establishment of a coordination center in Istanbul with the presence of representatives of all parties, joint monitoring of the situation of ships in the ports of departure and arrival, as well as ensuring safe navigation.

It was also decided that the Russian and Ukrainian delegations should meet again in Turkey next week where the agreed documents should be finally signed, Ankara hopes. According to the Turkish side, these efforts will help reduce the severity of the global food crisis that is currently developing, and Turkey intends to continue working to resolve these problems.

For his part, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the Istanbul talks a “ray of hope.” “We have seen in Istanbul an important step towards ensuring safe and reliable export of food from Ukraine via the Black Sea,” he said. He stressed that “more technical work would be needed to implement the progress made today”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that “some progress” had been achieved at the Istanbul talks. “It is not only our country, it is the whole world that needs a success in this story. It would alleviate the food crisis. We will soon agree on the details with the UN Secretary General,” the Ukrainian head of state said on his Telegram channel.

Knowing that according to Reuters and Wall Street Journal sources, the possible grain deal includes partial demining and a local ceasefire. “Grain can be exported from three Ukrainian ports by convoys accompanied by Ukrainian ships with a ceasefire within its geographical limits and partial demining,” writes the WSJ. Sources also report that the Turkish military with Nato support will check ships arriving in Ukrainian ports to allay Russian fears of possible arms trafficking.

In addition, the agreements provide for the establishment of a security zone to check ships in the immediate vicinity of Ukrainian territorial waters and not in the ports. And according to the source, “there are no significant obstacles to the signing of an agreement on the export of grain in the Black Sea, there are still technical details, all parties are willing for the mechanism to start working.

Russia is ready for the realization of the grain agreement. Moscow has repeatedly said that it is not opposed to the export of grain from Ukraine, and that the grain ships could leave the ports without problems if Kiev cleared them. This has been said several times at the highest level.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had pointed out on various occasions that by destabilizing the global production of agricultural products and enacting restrictions on Russian and Belarusian fertilizer shipments, the West is complicating grain exports on world markets.

“I have already stated several times publicly and I would like to emphasize again that Russia does not prevent the export of Ukrainian grain from the territory of this country and is ready to ensure free passage of grain ships in international waters, provided that the Ukrainian military clear the unloading ports and the surrounding waters,” said the Russian head of state.

The Kremlin expects the continuation of negotiations on Ukrainian grain soon.