MOSCOW, July 22. /TASS/. Agreements on establishment of a corridor for export of Ukrainian grain and withdrawal of restrictions on export of Russian food and fertilizer have been signed in Istanbul on Friday.
A memorandum signed by Russia and the UN states that the global organization will join the work on withdrawal of anti-Russian sanctions obstructing export of agricultural products and fertilizer.
The agreement on export of Ukrainian grain provides for safe corridors from three ports: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. Ukrainian territorial waters will not be demined, and Ukraine will ensure passage of ships to international waters; however, the export of grain will be supervised by the Joint coordination center in Turkey, which will include representatives of all four sides.
Substance of the agreements
According to the first memorandum, the UN will work with private businesses and member states to explain the situation around export of food and fertilizer from Russia, in order to ensure that the exemptions from sanctions ‘actually work,’ a high-ranking UN representative said Friday. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the memorandum will remain in effect for three years.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, the second package of documents provides for a humanitarian corridor for safe passage of trade ships to Ukrainian ports and back. Moscow expects that responsible implementation of the included measures will become a practical contribution to solving global food security issues.
The documents were signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Alexander Kubrakov and the UN representatives.
The ceremony was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A coordination center will be created in Turkey, which will include representatives of Ankara, Moscow, Kiev and the UN. The grain corridor will become operational in the upcoming days, Erdogan said. However, it would take several week to completely launch the process, as the sides staff and equip the center, establish groups for inspections, and prepare for export of grain, a UN representative said, adding that it is necessary to empty the warehouses before the next harvest in Ukraine begins. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that it is a matter of two weeks.
The coordination center will supervise inspection of ships coming to and from Ukrainian ports, in presence of representatives of all four sides. According to Shoigu, the ships will be inspected both entering and exiting the Black Sea in order to prevent transportation of weapons or ammunition, and to prevent provocations. The inspections will take place in a port designated by Turkey, a source told TASS. The Center will also make sure that the ships follow certain safe corridors and will react to potential incidents.
Safe corridors will be established from Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. The ports remain under Ukraine’s control, but there must be no ships other than those provide for export of grain, grain products and fertilizer, Ukrainian media reported. Ukrainian territorial waters will not be demined, because it would take three to four months. Ships will navigate in Ukraine’s territorial waters on their own with escort of Ukrainian coast guard ships. Once reached international waters, the ships will proceed to Istanbul on their own.
The ships will have no military escort, but the sides obliged not to attack port facilities mentioned in the treaty, as well as grain carriers. The cargo ships will not be escorted by Russian ships as well, Ukrainian Presidential Office representative Mikhail Podolyak said. Kiev will be tasked with ensuring safety within Ukraine’s territorial waters, including demining operations, Shoigu said.
The agreement will remain in effect for 120 days with optional prolongation, a UN representative said, adding that the Organization believes that these documents will require prolongation until the conflict is over.
The agreement will make it possible to deliver at least 25 million tonnes of grain to global markets, a source in Istanbul told TASS. During the first stage, about 80 ships with food will be unblocked in Ukrainian ports. A UN representative said that Ukraine will export about 5 million tonnes of grain every month, since it was exactly how much Ukraine did export from the mentioned ports before the beginning of the conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the fact of these agreements underscores the artificiality of Western attempts to blame Russia for grain shortage on global markets. He noted that the efforts of the Russian delegation made it possible to preserve the non-politicized nature of the agreement on the Ukrainian grain. He also thanked President Erdogan for his contribution to the agreements, including those regarding export of Russian food and fertilizer.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres claimed that representatives of Russia and Ukraine overcame their difficulties for an initiative that can help the welfare of mankind. According to Guterres, the UN expects Turkey to continue playing an important role on the implementation of the agreement on export of Ukrainian grain.
In turn, Erdogan called the agreement an important step towards resolution of the food crisis, which will help to alleviated the threat of famine for billions of people in the world, and thanked Russian and Ukrainian leadership for the contribution to the resolution of the grain export issue. He also called for prompt resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell called the agreements a step in a right direction.
Turkish Defense Ministry noted that naval export of Ukrainian grain will lower food prices.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated its readiness to TASS to provide technical aid on implementation of the agreement.