Russian and Ukrainian officials have signed a deal to allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the agreement would help ease a global food crisis.
The neighbouring countries are among the world’s biggest exporters of food, but Russia’s invasion led to a blockade of the Black Sea, resulting in Ukraine’s exports dropping.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the deal means around $10bn worth of grain will be available for sale with roughly 20 million tonnes of last year’s harvest that can now be exported.
According to UN officials, under the agreement, a coalition of Turkish, Ukrainian and UN staff will monitor the loading of grain into vessels in Ukrainian ports before navigating a preplanned route through the Black Sea, which remains heavily mined by Ukrainian and Russian forces.
Ukrainian pilot vessels will guide commercial vessels transporting the grain in order to navigate the mined areas around the coastline using a map of safe channels provided by the Ukrainian side.
Meanwhile, the signing ceremony took place at Istanbul’s lavish Dolmabahce Palace in the presence of Erdogan and Guterres.
Therefore, the agreement is valid for 120 days and may be automatically renewed without further negotiations.