According to Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, the UN-led agreement to unblock grain exports from the Black Sea region will start to be implemented this week, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Ukrainian grain exports to resume this week?
The first grain-carrying vessels are expected to leave the Ukrainian port of Chernomorsk later this week, officials said.
Meanwhile, the ports of Odesa and Pivdenny (Yuzhny) will be ready in two weeks’ time, reporters were told.
Kubrakov said that although mines would be cleared to create a “maritime humanitarian corridor” to Ukraine, the grain ships would still be escorted by Ukrainian vessels and “maximum precautions will be taken.”
His words came amid reports that mines dating back to World War II continued to be found in the Black Sea in recent years.
The infrastructure minister added that a coordination centre would be set up on July 27 to monitor the implementation of the UN-brokered agreement.
At the moment, some USD 10 billion worth of grain is stuck in Ukraine, the country’s Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Mykola Solsky, told reporters.
Under the deal brokered by the UN and Turkey, Ukraine expects to be able to export 3 million tonnes of grain per month, Kubrakov announced.
Agreement to unblock grain exports
Last Friday, Ukraine and Russia agreed a deal to allow the resumption of grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Infrastructure and defence ministers from both countries signed an agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey in Istanbul.
The deal was seen as a diplomatic breakthrough that would help ease the global food crisis fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
UN’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the gathering in Istanbul: "Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope..., possibility ... and relief in a world that needs it more than ever."
Russian missiles strike Odesa
Just hours later, Russian missiles struck Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port.
Russia’s attack early on Saturday was widely denounced by Ukraine and its allies, as it put Friday’s landmark deal in jeopardy.
"The attack cast serious doubt on the credibility of Russia's commitment," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
He added that the strike "undermines the work of the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine to get critical food to world markets."
Liz Truss, the UK's foreign minister and potential next prime minister, stated: "It shows not a word [Russian President Vladimir Putin] says can be trusted."
Meanwhile, US broadcaster CNN said that by attacking Odesa, Russia had shown its true colours.
Monday was day 152 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, edition.cnn.com