Ukraine assured today that it will only sign an agreement to unblock grain exports with the UN and Turkey, indicating that Russia will have to sign a parallel and separate agreement with the same mediators.
Kyiv’s clarification was advanced by a Ukrainian presidential adviser, just moments from the signing of the agreement in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The same representative also stressed that Ukraine rejects having Russian escorts to its ships or Moscow representatives in the country’s ports.
“Ukraine will not sign any document with Russia. We have only signed an agreement and we have only made commitments with Turkey and the UN”, said the adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, Mikhaïlo Podoliak, in a message posted on the social network Twitter.
“Russia will sign a separate mirror agreement with Turkey and the UN,” he stressed.
The agreement, which should be signed today at 2:30 pm (Lisbon time) at the Dolmabahçe Palace, in the Turkish city of Istanbul, is expected to run for four months and is renewable.
According to what is already known to have been agreed, after two months of negotiations, the document will create a control center in Istanbul, headed by representatives of the parties involved: a Ukrainian, a Russian, a Turkish and a UN representative, who shall establish the schedule for rotating ships in the Black Sea.
The agreement also implies that ships carrying grain will be inspected to ensure that they carry weapons to Ukraine.
These inspections, which will be carried out both on departure and arrival of ships, will take place in the ports of Istanbul.
However, Mikhaïlo Podoliak also warned that Ukraine will not accept any escort of Russian ships to its exports or the presence of representatives of Moscow in its ports, promising an “immediate military response” to any Russian “provocation” at the end of this agreement.
“All inspections of transport ships will be carried out by joint groups in Turkish waters, if necessary,” he said, shortly after the Ukrainian delegation’s arrival in Istanbul was announced for the signing of the agreement.
“The Ukrainian delegation headed by Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov arrived in Istanbul to negotiate a solution to the cereal issue,” the ministry said on the Telegram network.
The ministry’s message was accompanied by a photograph showing members of the delegation talking with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
“The [United Nations] secretary-general expressed, once again, his support for the unblocking of Ukrainian ports and assured that security is a priority for the UN”, said the Ukrainian ministry.
This agreement is eagerly awaited by the international community, as around 25 million tons of cereals have been blocked in Ukrainian ports for almost five months, due to the war started by Russia on February 24th.
The two countries in conflict are the biggest cereal producers in the world.
Russian Presidency (Kremlin) spokesman Dmitri Peskov admitted this morning that it is “very important” to allow the export of grain blocked in Ukrainian ports, confirming that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will be in Istanbul to sign the agreement.
Peskov also underlined the importance of Russian grain also being able to reach markets.
Source: With Agencies