UN Secretary-General will be in Turkey this Thursday.
Russia and Ukraine will sign the agreement on the export of cereals on Friday, according to a Turkish government source, quoted by Agence France-Presse.
The announcement comes a day after Turkey’s president said he wanted a written deal later this week.
“The signing ceremony of the grain shipment agreement, which will be attended by [Turkish] President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, will be signed tomorrow at 4:30 pm [2:30 pm in Lisbon] at the Dolmabahçe Palace, with the participation of Ukraine and Russia”, notes the text.
The agreement was expected this week
“An agreement began to emerge last week during talks in Istanbul last week. Now, we want this agreement to be in writing,” reads a statement issued by the official’s office on Wednesday, quoted by Jazeera. “Hopefully it will be ready in the next few days,” said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In addition to the statements made by the Turkish leader, the Kremlin also showed on Wednesday some willingness to sign the agreement.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] we sent a signal to the (UN) Secretary General saying, here it is, this is your initiative, let’s make a decision on the Ukrainians, then on the Russians,” said the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had already made a similar request.
“We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian cereals, but on the basis of the lifting of all restrictions related to air deliveries for the export of Russian cereals,” said the Russian head of state, on a same-day visit to Tehran, Iran.
Guterres on his way to Turkey
The secretary-general of the United Nations, who is also involved in the negotiations, is traveling to Turkey this Thursday, according to a spokesman for the organization.
The information was given before the signing of the agreement was known, but the spokesman said that Guterres “travels to Istanbul as part of his efforts to ensure full global access to Ukrainian food and Russian food and fertilizer.” The official excluded, on the other hand, that a future agreement could include any relief from international sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.
Farhan Haq stressed that “this is not an agreement between two parties, Russia and Ukraine, it is an agreement for the whole world”, since “hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of human lives could be saved” if the agreement is signed it’s applied.
The representative did not specify how long it would take to transport Ukrainian grain held in Black Sea ports via negotiated routes, but stressed that the UN and “other parties” are working to ensure that this is done “as soon as possible”.
Earlier this week, the Turkish president had talked about the possibility of the parties involved – Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations – reaching an agreement in the coming days, which happened.
Istanbul hosted last week a meeting of military experts from Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey and UN representatives to try to unblock the export of Russian and Ukrainian grain held back due to the war in Ukraine and to avoid a global food crisis.
Together, according to the British magazine The Economist, Ukraine and Russia supply 28% of the world’s wheat, 29% of barley, 15% of corn, and 75% of sunflower oil.
Russian grain and fertilizer exports have been affected by Western sanctions on Russian logistics and financial chains.
Russia is a key fertilizer exporter. In 2021, the country was the world’s leading exporter of nitrogen fertilizers and the second largest supplier of potassium and phosphorus fertilizers.