Russia and Ukraine on Friday signed parallel agreements with Turkey and the United Nations to avoid a global shortage of the kitchen staples and allow the safe transit of millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports that have been crippled due to the invasion.
Less than 24 hours after the agreement, the Ukrainian military said that Russian missiles struck infrastructure in Odessa in southern Ukraine.
Odessa, along with Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi ports, is part of the crucial agreement.
On Friday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the war-torn country has about $10 billion in grain, including 20 million tonnes from last year’s harvest, available to export.
In a speech to the nation, Zelensky said, “We now have approximately $10 billion worth of grain.”
The pact has been signed for an initial three-month period by representatives of both countries, to help revive shipments from one of the world’s top wheat, corn and vegetable-oil exporters.
Reacting to the decision, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said at a press conference in Istanbul that the deal will allow for “significant volumes of commercial food exports”.
The United Nations Secretary General has announced the establishment of a joint coordination centre to monitor implementation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that traffic would begin in “coming days”.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Zelensky said there could be no ceasefire that gives Russia an upper hand. “They will not use this pause to change their geopolitics or to renounce their claims on the former Soviet republics,” he said.
Referring to the deal, Zelensky added, “Diplomatic concessions to Moscow might stabilise the markets somewhat, but would only provide a temporary respite and boomerang in the future.”