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Ukraine and Russia near deal to end blockade of grain exports

Ukraine and Russia are close to agreeing on an agreement to ensure the safe passage of millions of tonnes of grain through the Black Sea, but remain at odds over how to ensure the security of ports and ships along the crucial export route, according to people familiar with UN-led negotiations.

The four-party agreement, also mediated by Turkey, will end in months The Russian siege of the Black Sea ports of Ukraine Which cut off the export path of one of the world’s leading grain producers and threatened a global food crisis.

Russia and Ukraine have agreed to monitor ships en route to and from ports, including Odessa, at two control centers – one in Istanbul and the other in the Black Sea – where ships will be inspected.

Russia has also made some promises that it will not launch cargo ships that will collect the 22 million tonnes of wheat, corn and other products trapped off the coast of Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion five months ago, officials and diplomats said on the talks.

But Ukraine is not entirely convinced of the offer of a safe passage and it also demands a commitment that will ensure that Russia does not attack its ports.

Ukrainian officials have suggested that it will be possible to agree on the outline of a deal in the coming days, according to EU sources who spoke with the Financial Times. But a lack of agreement on key issues means it will take up to three weeks for shipments to resume, according to people briefed on the talks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose close ties with Kyiv and Moscow have allowed him to mediate the conflict, hoped to receive security guarantees from Putin Triple summit in Tehran On Tuesday, the people added.

Officials in Turkey have expressed optimism that after negotiations on a skeleton plan in Istanbul last week, there will be a new round of talks to conclude a deal in the big city in Turkey later this week.

The governments of Ukraine and Turkey did not respond to requests for comment. The Kremlin declined to comment.

Ukraine has run out of time to ship Last year’s harvest Before it rotted in storage and warned of a failure in grain exports would deprive farmers of the ability to fund future planting cycles.

Russia has launched a number of missile strikes on port infrastructure, including grain silos, along the Black Sea, where Ukraine has laid mines to prevent an attack on the coast.

Ukraine accused Russia of attacking commercial ships and stealing and selling grain from occupied territory. Russia says it has begun shipping grain from ports in Ukrainian-controlled territory, but blames Kyiv’s mines for stopping traffic in the Black Sea.

Kyiv still raises concerns about Ankara’s role given Turkey’s reluctance to intercept ships carrying grain that Ukraine claims was stolen from its farmers. This month, Turkey stopped the Russian-flagged “Jibek Julie” vessel at Ukraine’s request only to allow it to leave a few days later.

Another point of fault is who represented Russia at the Black Sea monitoring station, which will most likely be in Odessa. While officials from Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the UN will monitor the vessels at the control center in Istanbul, Moscow is pushing officials from the former Soviet state to act as its representatives at the second test site, two people familiar with the talks said.

Russia has demanded that the West lift sanctions that it says have hurt its agricultural exports as part of any potential deal.

The new EU sanctions under discussion against Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, include the cancellation of food – related deals. Brussels is also expected to agree on measures to boycott food trade and fertilizers from existing sanctions against Moscow, with the aim of freeing exports from Russia.

These measures are not related to efforts to reach an agreement with Moscow on the Black Sea, said a senior EU official involved in drafting sanctions for FT, but part of a broader move to alleviate the global food crisis.

Ukraine and Russia near deal to end blockade of grain exports Source link Ukraine and Russia near deal to end blockade of grain exports

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