Officials from Russia and Ukraine signed a deal Friday to reopen grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Reuters says the deal should help ease the global food crisis. Officials from the United Nations expect the agreement will be fully operational in a few weeks and restore shipments to pre-war levels of five million tons per month. The deal will allow Ukraine to export the 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in the Black Sea ports due to Russia’s invasion.
The deal could be in question though as multiple reports over the weekend indicated that Russia fired missiles on the port of Odessa. Read more about that from Reuters here: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/kremlin-russian-strikes-odesa-port-dont-impact-grain-exports-2022-07-25/
“A deal allowing grain to leave the Black Sea ports is nothing short of lifesaving for people across the world who are struggling to feed their families,” says Red Cross Director-General Robert Mardini. He also notes that prices for food staples have risen 187 percent in Sudan, 86 percent in Syria, 60 percent in Yemen, and 54 percent in Ethiopia over the past six months.
The U.S. will be looking for proof Russia is upholding its end of a Turkish-brokered deal to free up Ukrainian grain exports. The agreement, if kept, could end at least partially a months-long Russian blockade of ports that remain under Ukraine’s control, especially the port of Odessa.
State Department Spokesman Ned Price; “To date, Russia has weaponized food during this conflict. They have destroyed agricultural facilities. They prevented millions of tons of Ukrainian grain from getting to those who need it. As I said, we welcome the announcement of this agreement in principle.”
But more importantly according to Price; “But what we’re focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets. It has been far too long since Russia enacted this blockade. It is a reflection of Russia’s wanton disregard for lives and livelihoods not only in the region but well beyond that we even had to reach this point.”