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Ukraine and Russia sign UN-backed deal to restart grain exports

Shipping of millions of tonnes from blockaded Black Sea ports could potentially avert global food crisis

  • Russia-Ukraine war: latest updates

Ukraine and Russia have signed a UN-backed deal to allow the export of millions of tonnes of grain from blockaded Black Sea ports, potentially averting the threat of a catastrophic global food crisis.

A signing ceremony at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul was attended by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, who had played a key role during months of tense negotiations.

A coalition of Turkish, Ukrainian and UN staff will monitor the loading of grain on to vessels in Ukrainian ports before navigating a pre-planned route through the Black Sea, which remains heavily mined by Ukrainian and Russian forces.

Ukrainian pilot vessels will guide commercial vessels transporting the grain in order to navigate the mined areas around the coastline using a map of safe channels provided by the Ukrainian side.

The vessels will then cross the Black Sea towards Turkey’s Bosphorus strait while being closely monitored by a joint coordination centre in Istanbul, containing representatives from the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.

Ships entering Ukraine will be inspected under the supervision of the same joint coordination centre to ensure they are not carrying weapons or items that could be used to attack the Ukrainian side.

The Russian and Ukrainian sides have agreed to withhold attacks on any of the commercial vessels or ports engaged in the initiative to transport vital grain, while UN and Turkish monitors will be present in Ukrainian ports in order to demarcate areas protected by the accord.

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