Grain Corridor: Historic deals signed in Istanbul

With the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations, Kiev and Moscow on Friday signed an agreement in Istanbul on the resumption of Ukraine’s grain shipments from Black Sea ports.

Moscow and Kiev signed agreement Friday with the UN and Turkey in Istanbul aimed at allowing safe passage for ships going in and out of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that have been blocked by Russia since invasion.

Under the deal, the Istanbul coordination center was established to carried out joint inspections at the entrance and exits of harbors, and to ensure the safety of routes.

“We expect them to own up to the deals they signed and to act according to the responsibilities they undertook,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told an interview and said the “operational aspect” of the mechanism would be coordinated from a center in Istanbul, with representatives from all parties.

WHAT TO EXPECT FOLLOWING GRAIN CORRIDOR DEAL?

One of the most important consequences of the war is the global food crisis. Ukraine and Russia supply 40 percent of Africa's wheat need. Before the war, Ukraine made 90 percent of its exports by sea. The inability of the world’s two most important grain producers to export their products caused an increase in food prices and endangered the lives of millions of people, especially in poor African countries.

Turkey coordinated with Russia and Ukraine to open a corridor from the Ukrainian port city of Odesa to resume grain shipments long halted due to the ongoing war which started on Feb.24.

Getting the grains of Russia and Ukraine, which are important grain producers, from the warehouses to the international market is quite complicated due to the war in the region. This process includes clearing mines in Ukraine from the ports and routes, controlling the arrival and exit points of the ports, ensuring the safety of navigation of the vessels carrying grain in the Black Sea, transporting the grain from the straits to the international market after the ships arrive in Turkey, and the duties of Ukrainian and Russian officials in Istanbul. It includes the operation of the coordination center that it will receive.

The actor that will participate in this process as a facilitator must be an acceptable actor in terms of Black Sea security and must be acceptable to Kyiv and Moscow due to the position it has taken against the escalating effects of the war. It was understood that there was no different actor other than Ankara that could fulfill these two conditions, since some other actors such as France, Romania, Germany and the EU, which had been trying for a solution since the beginning of the crisis, could not make any progress.

With the food corridor, Ukraine will be able to start exports from the ports of Odessa, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk, which are completely under its control. According to the agreement, cargo ships loaded with food will reach the Black Sea from mined ports via pilot ships and will be transported to world markets via predetermined routes.

ODESSA AIR STRIKES: WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GRAIN DEAL?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who made a statement after Russian forces hit a Ukrainian warship and an arms depot in Odessa last Saturday, stated that there is no clause in the grain agreement signed in Istanbul that would prevent Russia from attacking the military infrastructure in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov stated at the press conference in Kiev, that they hope the first grain shipment will be made from the Chornomorsk Port this week and that shipments can be made from all ports within 2 weeks within the framework of the agreement. Stating that there is no limit on how much grain can be exported to Ukraine and that the resumption of shipments will bring Ukraine at least 1 billion dollars a month, Kubrakov said that the biggest risk in front of the agreement is Russian attacks and this may "frighten the market".

"We expect the first ship to depart in a few days. The Joint Coordination Center will liaise with the shipping industry and publish detailed procedures for the ships very soon," UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.

Ukrainian Deputy Minister Yuriy Vaskov also said, "We believe that we will be ready to work to restart exports from our ports in the next 24 hours. This will be primarily from the Port of Chornomorsk. Then from Odessa, then from the Port of Pivdeny."

The solution of the grain corridor crisis with the mediation of Turkey will create a positive model for the regional and global crises that need to be prepared in an environment where the Ukraine war is assumed to be prolonged. It will also initiate the necessary confidence-building process to restore the peace talks environment between Ukraine and Russia. In any case, we see that Ankara has consolidated its position as a legitimate security provider both within the Astana guarantee process and within the framework of grain corridor diplomacy.