Turkey says Ukrainian ports will be reopened under an agreement to be signed Friday

  • The United Nations and Turkey worked to broker a grain export deal between Ukraine and Russia
  • Signs of hope that the global food crisis can be alleviated
  • Ukraine’s Zelensky sees potential for battlefield gains

July 22 (Reuters) – Turkey said Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to grain exports, raising hopes that the global food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion can be eased.

Ukraine and Russia, both of the world’s largest food exporters, did not immediately confirm Thursday’s announcement by the Turkish presidential office. But Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his late-night video address, hinted that his country’s Black Sea ports may be opened soon.

The blockade imposed by the Russian fleet on the Black Sea has cut supplies to markets around the world and raised grain prices since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

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Full details of the agreement were not immediately disclosed. A UN spokesman said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was on his way to Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said the deal was due to be signed on Friday at 1330 GMT. Read more

“And tomorrow we also expect news about our state from Turkey – regarding the opening of our ports,” said Zelensky, whose speech focused mainly on the ability of Ukrainian forces to make gains on the battlefield.


Moscow has denied responsibility for exacerbating the food crisis, blaming the chilling effect of Western sanctions on slowing its exports of food and fertilizer, and Ukraine for mining its Black Sea ports.

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US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington would focus on holding Moscow accountable for implementing the agreement.

The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a “comprehensive” deal – to restart Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate shipments of Russian grain and fertilizer.

Russia said on Thursday that the latest round of European Union sanctions would have “serious consequences” for security and parts of the global economy.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement that the 27-nation bloc had proposed easing some of the previous sanctions in an effort to protect global food security, and that Moscow hoped this would create conditions for the unimpeded export of grain and fertilizer.


Zelensky met with top leaders on Thursday to discuss arms supplies and intensify attacks on Russians. Read more

“(We) agreed that our forces have strong potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict significant new losses on the occupiers,” Zelensky said in his video address.

Ukraine has accused Russia of intensifying missile strikes on cities in recent weeks to terrorize their residents. Moscow denies attacking civilians and says all of its targets are military.

Kyiv hopes that Western weapons, especially long-range missiles such as the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), will allow to counterattack and reclaim territory lost in the conquest.

There have been no major frontline breakthroughs since Russian forces captured the last two Ukrainian-held cities of the eastern Luhansk province in battles in late June and early July. Russian forces are also focused on the neighboring Donetsk Province.

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Russia aims to fully capture both Donetsk and Luhansk on behalf of its separatist proxies.

The Russian state-owned news agency TASS, citing the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, reported that Ukrainian forces bombed the Russian-controlled eastern city of Donetsk on Friday morning. Acting Mayor of the city Andrei Skuri told TASS that Ukrainian forces also destroyed bridges before withdrawing from Lysichansk, which is now hampering food deliveries.

Russia declared its control of the southern port city of Mariupol two months ago after a fierce battle that killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Those who remain now face a new battle: how to survive without water supply or sanitation in a city where about 90% of buildings have been destroyed, and where trash and human remains rot in the rubble under the summer heat.

“You make a fire, you cook food, you have breakfast for the children,” one resident told Reuters. “In the afternoon you go find some business or get your dry ration to feed the kids dinner. It’s Groundhog Day, they say: you wake up and it’s always the same.”

Russia called its invasion a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of fascists, an assertion that the Ukrainian government and its Western allies said was an unfounded pretext for an unprovoked war.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Grant McCall; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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