Ukrainian ports to reopen under deal to be signed on Friday, Turkey says

  • The UN and Turkey brokered a grain export deal between Ukraine and Russia
  • Sign of hope that the global food crisis could be alleviated
  • Ukrainian Zelenskiy sees potential for battlefield gains

July 22 (Reuters) – Russia and Ukraine will sign an agreement on Friday to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to grain exports, Turkey said, raising hopes an international food crisis caused by the Russian invasion could be attenuated.

Ukraine and Russia, both among the world’s largest food exporters, did not immediately confirm the announcement made Thursday by the Turkish presidential office. But in a late-night video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hinted that his country’s Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked.

The blockade of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has reduced supplies to markets around the world and driven up grain prices since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

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Full details of the deal were not immediately released. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was traveling to Turkey, a UN spokesman said. The deal was due to be signed at 1:30 p.m. GMT on Friday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said. Read more

Zelenskiy, whose address mainly focused on the potential of Ukrainian forces to make gains on the battlefield, said: “And tomorrow we also expect news from Turkey for our state – regarding the release of our ports”.

PUNISHMENTS

Moscow has denied responsibility for the worsening food crisis, instead blaming the chilling effect of Western sanctions for slowing its own food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining its ports in the black Sea.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington would focus on holding Moscow accountable for carrying out the deal.

The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to negotiate what António Guterres called a “comprehensive” deal – to resume Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea and facilitate Russian shipments of grain and fertilizer.

Russia said on Thursday the latest round of European Union sanctions would have “devastating consequences” for security and parts of the global economy.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement that the 27-nation bloc had offered to ease some earlier sanctions in a bid to safeguard global food security, and Moscow hoped that would create conditions for the unimpeded export of grain and fertilizer.

BATTLEFIELD

Zelenskiy met with senior commanders on Thursday to discuss arms supplies and stepping up attacks on the Russians. Read more

“(We) agreed that our forces had the strong potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict significant further casualties on the occupiers,” Zelenskiy said in his video address.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stepping up missile strikes on cities in recent weeks to terrorize its population. Moscow denies attacking civilians and says all of its targets are military.

Kyiv hopes that Western weapons, especially longer-range missiles such as the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), will allow it to counterattack and retake territory lost in the invasion.

The main front lines have been largely frozen since Russian forces seized the last two Ukrainian-held towns in eastern Luhansk province in battles in late June and early July. Russian forces are also concentrating on the neighboring province of Donetsk.

Russia aims to fully capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk in the name of its separatist proxies.

He claimed control of the southern port city of Mariupol two months ago after a brutal battle that killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Those who remained now face a new battle: how to survive without a water supply or sewage system in the city where around 90% of buildings have been destroyed, and rubbish and human remains are rotting in the rubble in the heat. summer.

“You start a fire, you cook, you make breakfast for the kids,” one resident told Reuters. “In the afternoon you go look for work or get your dry ration to feed the children’s dinner. It’s groundhog day, as they say: you wake up and it’s always the same.”

Russia has called its invasion a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of fascists, a claim that the Ukrainian government and its Western allies have called a baseless pretext for unprovoked war.

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Reports from Reuters offices; written by Grant McCool; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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