Turkey says it will sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukraine’s ports

  • The UN and Turkey worked to broker a Ukraine-Russia grain export deal
  • A hopeful sign that the global food crisis is easing
  • Ukraine’s Zelenskiy sees potential for battlefield gains

July 22 (Reuters) – Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to grain exports, Turkey said, raising hopes that an international food crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion could be eased.

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

A blockade by Russia’s Black Sea fleet has cut supplies to markets around the world and grain prices have risen since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

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Full details of the deal were not immediately disclosed. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will visit Turkey, UN spokesperson said. The deal will be signed at 1330 GMT on Friday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said. read more

Focusing mainly on the ability of Ukrainian forces to make gains on the battlefield, Zelensky said: “Tomorrow we expect messages from Turkey for our state – about blocking our ports.”

Obstacles

Moscow has denied responsibility for exacerbating the food crisis, instead blaming a chilling effect on Western sanctions that have reduced its own food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine’s mining of its Black Sea ports.

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

The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a “package” deal — to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

Russia said on Thursday that the latest round of EU sanctions could have “catastrophic consequences” for security and parts of the global economy.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement that the 27-nation bloc has proposed easing some previous sanctions in an effort to protect global food security, and Moscow hopes it will create conditions for unimpeded exports of grain and fertilizer.

battlefield

Zelenskiy met with senior commanders on Thursday to discuss arms supplies and intensifying attacks on the Russians. read more

“(We) agreed that our forces have a strong potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict significant new losses on the aggressors,” Zelensky said in his video address.

Ukraine has accused it of threatening people with missile attacks on cities in recent weeks. Moscow denies attacking civilians and says all its targets are military.

Kyiv hopes that Western weapons, particularly the long-range US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) missiles, will allow it to counterattack and recapture territory lost to the invasion.

Major battlefronts have been largely paralyzed since Russian forces captured the last two Ukrainian-held towns in eastern Luhansk province in fighting in late June and early July. Russian forces are also focused on neighboring Donetsk province.

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Russia aims to fully capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk on behalf of its separatist proxies.

It took control of the southern port city of Mariupol two months ago after a brutal war that killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Those left behind now face a new battle: How to survive in a city where about 90% of the buildings have been destroyed, without water or sewage supplies, and where garbage and human remains rot in the ruins under the summer heat.

“You light a fire, you cook food, you cook breakfast for the children,” one resident told Reuters. “In the afternoon you go find some work, or get your dry food to feed the children for dinner. It’s Groundhog Day, as they say: you wake up, and it’s always the same.”

Russia called its invasion a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of fascists, which the Ukrainian government and its Western allies said was a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.

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Report by Reuters Bureau; Written by Grant McCool; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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