Russia, Ukraine agree on grain exports despite clashes
By Stefan J. Bos
Russia and Ukraine, both among the world's biggest exporters of food, sent their defense and infrastructure ministers to Istanbul to take part in a signing ceremony aimed at avoiding massive starvation
The blockade by Russia's Black Sea fleet worsened global supply chain disruptions and, along with Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, increased food and energy prices.
Some 20 million tonnes of grain were stuck in silos at Odesa, and dozens of ships were stranded by Moscow's offensive.
Full details of the accord were not immediately released, but Russian sources said three Ukrainian ports, including the biggest export hub, Odesa, would be reopened.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres backed the accord along with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
The United States cautiously welcomed the deal, explained U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price. “We welcome the announcement of this agreement in principle, but what we're focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.”
However, “It has been far too long that Russia has enacted this blockade,” he stressed.
The spokesman also said that “this was a deliberate decision on the part of the Russian Federation to weaponize food," charges Moscow denies.
But despite the deal on grain, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
Fierce fighting was reported Friday, in especially Ukraine's east, where Russia attempts to capture the entire industry-heavy Donbas region.
The clashes underscored that deep-rooted mistrust remains between the two sides as the war escalates.