Saturday July 23, 2022

Russia, Ukraine Seal Landmark Grain Deal in Istanbul

ISTANBUL: Ukraine and Russia on Friday ended months of fraught negotiations and signed a landmark deal with Turkey and the United Nations aimed at relieving a global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain deliveries.

The first major deal between the warring parties since Russia s February invasion should help ease the “acute hunger” that the UN estimates say now faces an additional 47 million people because of the war.

But the hostility between Moscow and Kyiv spilled over into the signing ceremony — delayed for more than half an hour by disputes about the display of flags around the table and Ukraine s refusal to put its name on the same document as the Russians.

The two sides eventually inked separate but identical agreements in the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Istanbul s lavish Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus Strait.

“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea — a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief,” Guterres said moments before Russian and Ukrainian officials penned their separate deals.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a key player in the negotiations who has good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv — said the deal would “hopefully revive the path to peace”.

But Ukraine entered the ceremony by bluntly warning that it would conduct “an immediate military response” should Russia violate the agreement and attack its ships or stage an incursion around its ports.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later said the responsibility for enforcing the deal would fall to the UN.

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