The export of millions of tons of grain from the war-torn Ukraine is to be jointly monitored by the conflicting parties under UN leadership. An agreement to end the Russian grain blockade in the Black Sea, which has not yet been signed, provides for a joint control center in Istanbul, which is said to be managed by the United Nations and staffed by representatives from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
The German Press Agency learned this from diplomatic circles in New York. The precise coordinates for the humanitarian corridor by sea between Ukraine and the Bosphorus are also to be determined at this headquarters in the Turkish metropolis.
According to the information, the parties also agreed that ships bound for Ukraine would first be searched in Istanbul to ensure that they were not carrying weapons or the like. There should be another check in Turkey if the ships coming from Ukraine want to leave the Black Sea again. This is to ensure that only grain is on board.
Ships in the humanitarian corridor and the ports involved should not be attacked. This point is interpreted in New York in such a way that a ceasefire should actually apply in these strategically important places – for example in the port of Odessa. The agreement is said to be initially valid for four months.
Russia and Ukraine are among the largest wheat exporters and play an important role in world food security. Because of the Russian war of aggression against the neighboring country, millions of tons of grain cannot be exported from Ukraine. However, the food is urgently needed on the world market – especially in Asia and Africa. The United Nations recently warned of the worst famine in decades.
According to the information, the implementation of the agreement – and thus the export of food from Ukraine – could take weeks. Western diplomats noted that it was still possible that Moscow could use bogus reasons to fail to implement the agreements.
The agreement is to be signed on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (CEST) in Istanbul by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among others. It was initially unclear who was coming for the delegations from Russia and Ukraine.
“We can solve this problem and potentially save hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people from food prices being out of their reach,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Thursday.
Representatives of the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey recently made great progress in negotiations in Istanbul. The agreement that has now apparently been reached would be the United Nations’ greatest mediation success since the beginning of the war, after the world organization had already helped with the evacuation of Ukrainian civilians in the city of Mariupol. It could also be the most important compromise between Moscow and Kyiv in the conflict to date.
International politicians have repeatedly contradicted Moscow’s claim that the grain blockade was due to Ukraine’s refusal to clear mines from its ports: it was emphasized that there are definitely safe corridors through which ships could sail.