According to Turkey, on Friday, Russia and Ukraine will sign an agreement to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for grain exports, raising hopes that the global food crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion can be mitigated.
However, the announcement made by the Turkish presidency on Thursday was not immediately confirmed by two of the world’s largest food exporters, Ukraine and Russia.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, however, suggested in a late-night video tackle that his country’s Black Sea ports might soon be opened.
Ukraine Ports to Reopen
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighboring Ukraine on February 24, the blockade by Russia’s Black Sea fleet has reduced supplies to markets worldwide and despatched grain prices hovering.
No immediate public announcement was made regarding the full settlement details. It was announced by a UN spokesman that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would be visiting Turkey. The office of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced that the agreement was scheduled to be signed on Friday at 1330 GMT.
Zelenskyy, whose address mainly focused on the capabilities of Ukrainian forces on the battlefield, said, “And tomorrow we also expect information for our state from Turkey – concerning the unblocking of our ports.”
Moscow has denied responsibility for escalating the food crisis, instead blaming the chilling effect of Western sanctions for reducing its own food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining its Black Sea ports.
Ned Value, a spokesman for the US Department of State, said that the US would take care of holding Moscow accountable for concluding the settlement.
For the past two months, the United Nations and Turkey have been working to broker a deal that Guterres called a “package deal” to restore grain exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea and facilitate the shipment of grain and fertilizer from Russia.
On Thursday, Russia warned that the latest round of European Union sanctions would have “devastating consequences” for global security and the global economy.
Moscow hoped that this would pave the way for the unrestricted export of grain and fertilizers after an announcement from the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that the 27-nation bloc had proposed to ease some earlier sanctions to safeguard international meals safety.
On Thursday, Zelenskyy met with top commanders to discuss expanding attacks against Russians and increasing weapon supplies.
“(We) agreed that our forces have the sturdy potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict important new losses on the occupiers,” Zelenskyy said in his video address.
Ukraine claims Russia has increased missile attacks on cities in recent weeks in an effort to frighten the Ukrainian population. Moscow claims it has not attacked civilians but focused on navy vessels.
With the help of Western weapons, particularly longer-range missiles like the US Excessive Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Kyiv hopes to launch a counterattack and reclaim territory lost during the invasion.
Since Russian forces captured the last two Ukrainian-held cities in eastern Luhansk province in battles in late June and early July, the main frontlines have largely been frozen. The neighboring province of Donetsk is also a target of Russian aggression.
Russia’s separatist proxies aim to take over the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk.
After a brutal battle that killed hundreds and forced many thousands to flee, it took control of the southern port city of Mariupol two months ago.
Those who stayed behind must now fight to stay alive in a city where nearly all of the buildings have been destroyed, and garbage and human remains are rotting in the rubble in the sweltering summer sun.
“You begin a fireplace, you cook dinner meals, breakfast for the youngsters,” one resident said. “Within the afternoon, you go discover some work or get your dry ration to feed the youngsters dinner. It is Groundhog Day, as they are saying: you get up, and it is at all times the identical.”
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