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Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Russia And Ukraine Seal An Agreement To Unblock Grain Trade

Erdogan dismisses his mediation role in a pact that allows the arrival of cereals to the Middle East and Africa.

The military delegates of Russia and Ukraine have forged this Friday their first successful agreement since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. The Istanbul palace of Dolmabahçe has been the scene of a pact, signed by two parties, which should allow millions of tons of grain trapped in Ukrainian silos to be shipped by sea to buying countries starting next month.

Turkey, one of the traditional importers of Ukrainian wheat and a country through which cargo ships must pass before leaving for the Mediterranean, has spent months trying to close this pact and will play an important role in its materialization. The last fringes of the text were closed in the hours prior to the signing ceremony, in which each delegation, appearing separately, signed different documents in which they committed themselves to Turkey and the UN.

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"Today there is great hope in the Black Sea," declared UN Secretary General António Guterres, who thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his "perseverance" in achieving the agreement, which "focuses on what matters more to the population of the world. It is an agreement for the world, which can bring relief to developing countries," he concluded.

As explained by Guterres, the "unprecedented" pact between Russians and Ukrainians will result in the establishment of a coordination center, which will check the merchandise of the ships, and in the creation of a working group that "facilitates the unimpeded access of food and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia to international markets. Erdogan, who has thanked Presidents Volodimir Zelensky and Vladimir Putin for "leadership" during the negotiation, has located the coordination center in Istanbul.

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"This step will prevent a rise in prices," stressed the Turkish leader. "We will contribute to controlling the increase in food prices." "We are preventing harm against millions of people in the Middle East and Africa. It is important to provide food and security to the world," he stressed. Erdogan ended his speech by vindicating his efforts as a mediator and advocating "negotiation and diplomacy." "There is no winner, everyone loses in this conflict," he said.

Symptomatic of the enormous distrust that reigns between the two countries, and how far the end of the war in Ukraine is still, the representatives did not sign the same document of the agreement, but parallel commitments with the UN and with the mediator Turkey. To that end, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu entered the conference room first; After signing and leaving the room, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, entered and did the same.

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The implementation of the agreement is full of challenges. The first is to maintain the ceasefire in the Black Sea to which Russia has committed, in exchange, according to what is published, that its fertilizer trade benefits from the mechanism created. Mykhailo Podolyak , the Ukrainian presidential adviser, has assured in a series of tweets that "in case of provocations, there will be an immediate military response" by Ukraine.

The Ukrainian grain export device will start in three ports; Odessa, the main, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk , in the same region. The act of signing did not specify how the naval mines in the area will be intervened, and the installation of which Russia and Ukraine accuse each other. In any case, pilot boats will be in charge of guiding the merchants through the mined waters. According to Podolyak, no Russian ship will enter Ukrainian waters.

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It is estimated that there are 25 million tons of grain waiting in Ukrainian silos to be exported. The quantity may soon grow with the arrival of harvest time. Turkey and Russia jointly export a third of the wheat and barley consumed in the world, and more than 70% of sunflower oil. To this must be added fertilizers, a concern of Russia. The other was to control the cargo to prevent the entry of weapons by sea. This control will be in Istanbul.

The United States skeptically welcomes the agreement for the export of grain from Ukraine

The Joe Biden government has received with optimism, but also with skepticism, the agreements between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey for Moscow to unblock cereal exports from the first of those countries. "The United States is pleased with the agreements and congratulates Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General António Guterres," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said today at a press conference in which, however, he was very careful not to cast the bells on the fly.

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"The devil is in the details ," Kirby has said, using an expression all too common in the United States. "Whether or not the deals are successful depends on Russia," she added, referring to Moscow allowing ships to leave Ukraine. The spokesman for the National Security Council has also insisted that "the United States is not a party to this agreement", a phrase that obscures the fact that, for the pact to work, Washington will have to allow the financing of Russian and Belarusian exports. of fertilizer.

That is the second leg of the understanding, of which nothing has been spoken so far. According to the State Department, all that Washington has done is clarify the sanctions regime, so that those who finance purchases of Russian or Belarusian fertilizers know under what circumstances they can carry out such operations without the risk of exposing themselves to sanctions.

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