Ukraine and Russia sign a United Nations agreement on grain exports on the Black Sea

Ukraine is one of the world’s top exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but the Russian invasion of the country and the naval blockade of its ports have halted supplies. Some of Ukraine’s grain is transported across Europe by rail, road and river, but prices for essential commodities like wheat and barley have skyrocketed during the nearly five-month war.


Guterres said the plan, known as the Black Sea Initiative, opens a way for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three major Ukrainian ports: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

“It will help stabilize global food prices, which were already at record levels before the war – a real nightmare for developing countries,” Guterres added.

The agreement provides for provisions for the safe passage of ships through the heavily mined waters. A coordination center will be set up in Istanbul, staffed by representatives from the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, to monitor the ships and guide the process through specific corridors. Ships would be subjected to inspections to ensure they were not carrying weapons.

A senior UN official said cargo ships would use “secure channels” identified by Ukraine when entering and exiting ports and would be piloted by Ukrainians. The plan does not envisage any further demining of Ukraine’s territorial waters, which would have delayed the process.

No military vessels would be used for escort, but a minesweeper would be on standby in case the secure channels “needed to be checked occasionally,” the official said.

Ships entering Ukrainian ports would be scrutinized by inspection teams, which would include representatives of all parties involved, to ensure there were no weapons on board. The unloading of grain onto the ships is also monitored.

A key element of the deal is an agreement between Russia and Ukraine that there will be no attacks on any of the ships, according to the official.

It will take a few weeks for the deal to be fully operational, the official noted, saying Ukraine needs about 10 days to get the ports ready and also needs time to “identify and be aware of these safe corridors.” to be”.

An initial movement of ships may be possible by then, “just to show they can work,” the official said.


The goal is to export about 5 million tons of grain per month in order to empty Ukraine’s silos in time for the new harvest, the UN official said. The agreement is valid for a renewable period of 120 days.

Guterres first spoke about the critical need to bring Ukraine’s agricultural production and Russia’s grain and fertilizers back to world markets at meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in late April.

He proposed a package deal in early June amid concerns the war could threaten the food supply of many developing countries and worsen hunger for up to 181 million people.

Guterres described the deal as an unprecedented agreement between two parties locked in a bloody conflict. Erdogan said he hopes the initiative is “a new turning point that will revive hope for peace”.

Before the deal, Russian and Ukrainian officials blamed each other for the blocked grain shipments. Moscow accused Ukraine of failing to remove sea mines in ports to allow safe shipping and insisted on its right to screen incoming ships for weapons. Ukraine argued that Russia’s port blockade and missile launches from the Black Sea made safe shipments impossible.


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Joel McCord

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