Russia, Ukraine Reach Grain Export Agreement As Food Crisis Worsens

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement Friday to resume safe passage of grain as fears of global food insecurity spread.

Turkey and the United Nations (UN) mediated negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, hostile after months of brutal fighting, to reopen Black Sea ports from the Russian blockade, The Wall Street Journal reported. Disruption of Ukrainian grain exports has exacerbated a worldwide food shortage, and UN leaders have warned that soaring fertilizer and food prices will reach crisis levels in the next two years.

“This is an agreement for the world. It will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine, and it will help stabilize global food prices,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said at the signing.

The International Rescue Committee warned Tuesday that 20 million people in East Africa, which imports 90% of its grain from Ukraine, could go hungry by September, with three million facing “emergency and catastrophic levels of hunger” according to a press release.

The final arrangement requires all four parties to establish joint coordination centers in Istanbul, where incoming vessels to major Ukrainian ports will be inspected for military supplies, the WSJ reported. Outgoing vessels, loaded with Ukrainian grain, will then follow a specified path through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait to avoid sea mines.

Sea mines served as a point of contention between the warring parties, as both have laid extensive networks of underwater explosives throughout the Black Sea to restrict the others’ maritime abilities, the WSJ reported. Russia also controls access to key ports, although it has denied using its Navy to construct a blockade.

“The Ukrainian delegation will support only those decisions that will guarantee the security of the southern regions of Ukraine, the strong positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Black Sea and the safe export of Ukrainian agricultural products to the world markets,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement ahead of the signing.

The deal covers the next 120 days and has the potential for renewal “if the parties agree,” a UN spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. A UN official told the WSJ that exports will not resume full capacity until several weeks after the agreement, while Ukraine refits its ports for exporting and sets up pilot ships to guide commercial vessels through the perilous waters.

Ukraine and Russia did not directly sign the same agreement, instead forging parallel accords with the UN and Turkey, according to the WSJ. The agreement also includes provisions for Russian grain and fertilizer exports to resume. (RELATED: Putin Forges Deals In Iran After Biden Blows Through Middle East)

Wheat prices dropped Thursday as reports of the agreement surfaced, the WSJ reported. The Chicago wheat futures trade fell to $7.78 a bushel, down from a high of $12.94 immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Office of the President Of Turkey and the foreign ministries of Ukraine and Russia did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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