Still fighting aggression, Ukraine says grain worth $10 bn available to export
The pact was signed in presence of Turkey and the United Nations for an initial three-month period by representatives of Ukraine and Russia and is expected to ease the supplies crippled by the ongoing war.
Moscow and Kyiv 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 Russia's invasion on Ukraine. However, in less than 24 hours after the agreement, Russian missiles struck infrastructure in Odessa in southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military claimed.
Odessa, along with Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi ports, is part of the crucial agreement.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said Ukraine has about $10 billion in grain, including 20 million tonnes from last year’s harvest, available to export. “We now have approximately $10 billion worth of grain,” Zelensky said in his nightly speech to the nation.
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”.
Guterres has announced the establishment of a joint coordination center to monitor implementation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that traffic would begin in “coming days.”
"Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea -- a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief," Guterres said ahead of the signing.
However, for the deal to come through will not be easy. Zelensky rejected any ceasefire that would allow Moscow to keep territories seized since February.
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 stabilize the markets somewhat, but would only provide a temporary respite and boomerang in the future."