Russia and Ukraine are still at war, with no end in sight. But the two countries have reached a deal on exporting grain meant to stave off a possible global food crisis.
According to the Associated Press, Russia and Ukraine have reached separate deals with Turkey and the United Nations to export millions of tons of Ukrainian grain, along with Russian grain and fertilizer. A ceremony was held in Istanbul to mark the occasion.
“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, according to the AP. “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”
Russia has been blocking the export of Ukrainian grain since the start of the war. Ukraine will now be able to export twenty-two million tons of grain that have been stuck in Black Sea ports since the war began.
“You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all … it will help stabilize global food prices which were already at record levels even before the war—a true nightmare for developing countries,” Guterres added.
The United States expressed support for the agreement, although State Department spokesperson Ned Price focused on ensuring that Russia abides by the deal. “What we’re focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and for enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets. It has been for far too long that Russia has enacted this blockade,” Price said.
A Politico report earlier this week noted that a potential grain deal was discussed at a summit in Tehran between Russian president Vladimir Putin, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
“Not all the issues have been resolved yet, but it’s good that there has been some progress,” Putin said at the time. Khamenei endorsed the notion that if Russia hadn’t invaded Ukraine, NATO would have invaded Russia somewhere down the line.
Around the same time, Russia and Iran reached what was described as a memorandum of understanding on oil and gas. But the deal was interpreted in different ways, with Reuters describing the agreement as Russia’s Gazprom agreeing to “help [the National Iranian Oil Company] in the development of the Kish and North Pars gas fields and also six oil fields.” Reuters implied that the deals were worth about $40 billion.
However, Patrick Sykes of Bloomberg noted that Gazprom’s own announcement not only omitted a dollar figure but also said that the two sides had agreed merely to “analyze cooperation options.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.