A deal that would pave the way for resuming Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea is set to be signed Friday, Turkey says.
An agreement to allow the safe transportation of Ukrainian grain shipments has been reached in talks between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, Turkey’s communications directorate said in a statement.
The deal will be signed in Istanbul at 4:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET), with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General António Guterres as parties to it, according to the statement.
However, the UN and Ukraine authorities have sounded cautious about the fate of the deal.
The deputy spokesperson for the UN chief, Farhan Haq, told reporters that the UN is “hopeful” and will wait to “see what happens” when talks resume on Friday.
Oleksiy Honcharenko, a Ukrainian MP who has access to the talks, told BBC that no agreement has been reached yet, and they don’t trust Russians at all. “So let us wait till tomorrow for a final decision and that there will not be some pushbacks from Russians and last-minute changes. I keep fingers crossed tomorrow we’ll have a deal and Russia will really respect it.”
Oleh Nikolenko, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman, says the Ukrainian delegation will support only those decisions that will guarantee the security of the southern regions of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ strongholds in the Black Sea, and the safe export of Ukrainian agricultural products to other countries.
Meanwhile, wheat prices fell by 2 percent with a potential deal in sight, the Financial Times reported.
Russian blockade of Black Sea ports that prevented supply of grains to global market and reduced production prospects in Ukraine because of the war had led to steep increase in wheat and other grains’ prices.
Ukraine is the world’s major supplier of corn and wheat. Asian, African developing countries are the major importers of Ukrainian grains, mainly wheat.
But the country’s Black Sea ports, through which majority of the grains are exported, are blockaded by Russia. It includes the crucial hub of Odesa.
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