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Saturday, August 13, 2022
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Saturday, August 13, 2022
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    Russia, Ukraine seal landmark grain deal to ease shortages

    ISTANBUL (AFP) – Ukraine and Russia on Friday signed a landmark deal aimed at relieving a global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain deliveries, ending months of negotiations and sending wheat prices tumbling to levels last seen before Moscow’s invasion.

    The first major deal between the warring parties since the February invasion of Ukraine should help ease the “acute hunger” that the United Nations (UN) said faces 47 million people because of the war.

    The hostility between Moscow and Kyiv spilled over into the signing ceremony – delayed briefly by disputes about the display of flags around the table and Ukraine’s refusal to put its name on the same document as the Russians.

    The two sides eventually inked separate but identical agreements in the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Istanbul’s lavish Dolmabahce Palace.

    “Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea – a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief,” Guterres said before the signing.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres sit as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar exchange documents during a signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul. PHOTO: AP

    Erdogan – a key player in the negotiations who has good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv – said the deal would “hopefully revive the path to peace”.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later said the responsibility for enforcing the deal would fall to the UN, which along with Turkey is a co-guarantor of the agreement.

    The agreement includes points on running Ukrainian grain ships along safe corridors that avoid known mines in the Black Sea.

    Huge quantities of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

    Zelenskyy said that around 20 million tonnes of produce from last year’s harvest and the current crop would be exported under the agreement, estimating the value at around USD10 billion.

    Following the deal, wheat prices tumbled to levels last seen before Russia’s invasion.

    The United States, Britain and the European Union hailed the Istanbul agreement while urging Moscow to abide by its rules.

    The African Union also lauded the deal, and reiterated a call for “an immediate ceasefire” yesterday.

    Diplomats expect grain to only start fully flowing by mid-August.

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