Grain Deal Coming Soon? Following months of efforts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to negotiate a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, some progress finally appears to have been made – though, it won’t mean an end to the war.
Turkish defense minister Hukusi Akar said on Wednesday that a deal is expected to be signed next week that could allow more than 20 million tons of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports to finally leave the Black Sea ports. Akar said that the deal will include joint controls for checking all shipments in Ukraine’s Black Sea harbors. The deal will also see Turkey take an active role in ensuring that the ships take the pre-agreed routes through the Black Sea.
Turkey is also expected to establish a coordination center with the United Nations, Russia, and Ukraine to ensure that the grain shipments leave the country without having a positive or negative impact on either side of the military conflict.
U.N. Warns More Work Needed
The deal, however, has been described as “basic” – and the United Nations has warned that more work is needed to ensure that the plans come to fruition.
The Turkish government said that the agreement was a “basic” and “technical” one, and the next step in the discussions will involve solving technical problems.
“We see that the parties are willing to solve the problem,” Akar explained in a statement, adding that the final deal will be negotiated with the help of the United Nations. Another meeting is expected to take place in Turkey next week when the deal is expected to be signed.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the move is a “critical step forward” but that “more technical work will now be needed to materialize today’s progress.”
“Next week, hopefully, we’ll be able to have a final agreement,” he told reporters in New York on Wednesday. “But, as I said, we still need a lot of goodwill and commitments by all parties.”
Why It Matters
More than 20 million tons of grain have been stuck in Ukraine’s southern ports since the war began in February.
The very real prospect of a global food shortage has prompted world leaders to call on Russia and Ukraine to agree on a safe route for the ships to leave the ports. In June, African Union chairman and the president of Senegal, Macky Sall, warned that unless the grain is released from Ukraine’s ports it will cause a major food shortage on the continent.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.