Following two months of negotiations by the United Nations and Turkey, there’s finally a signed agreement to re-open three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for grain shipments opening the route for significant volumes of food exports.
Guarantee of safe passage
UN Officials have said that Russia and Ukraine have the elements in place such as the ports involved, the establishment of a monitoring centre in Istanbul, inspection routines for vessels and both sides have agreed not to attack or hinder the movement of vessels. These efforts will allow shipments of grain and food stocks into world markets which will help to reduce the pressure of high prices and ease the global food supply gap.
Under the plan, the UN reports that Ukrainian pilots will be used to guide the ships in and out of the ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. The ships will then follow a prescribed route out of Ukrainian waters before transiting the Bosphorus to a Turkish port where they will be inspected again before Ukraine grain shipments will depart for world markets.
How do Russia benefit from the arrangement?
Russia has of course insisted on the ships coming in not being used to transport military equipment, while also demanding the smoothing of the limits on its shipping in the region. Russia sought guarantees to ease the movement of its own foodstuffs and fertiliser and that they would also receive free passage.
The UN has said that a second separate agreement was being signed to address these points.
What impact will this have?
Experts estimate that there could be as much as 20 million tons of grain stuck at the port of Odesa with multiple ships having remained anchored off the port since the invasion began back in late February. Before the conflict, Russia and Ukraine grain shipments accounted for 75% of the grain grown in the region, with 90% of that moving by ship to around the world.
The UN has said it expects it will take a few weeks before the current agreements are fully implemented, but they are aiming to restore grain shipments to pre-conflict levels. Officials are hoping to get five million tons of grain exported out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports every month.
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