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To Avoid ‘Acute Hunger’

Both Russia and Ukraine are worried about a possible (global) food crisis due to the ongoing war between them. In order to avoid such a crisis, the two former Soviet Republics reached an agreement on July 22 (2022), mediated by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, in Istanbul. As per the accord, the Armies of the two neighbouring countries shall not stop the export of food items.

As per the deal agreed through UN and Turkish mediation, Ukrainian ships can come in and out of three designated Black Sea ports in and around Odessa through safe corridors. Both Russia and Ukraine agreed not to attack ships on their way in or out.

Russia, Ukraine sign agreement in Istanbul

AFP reported that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate, but identical agreements with the UN and Turkish officials on reopening blocked Black Sea delivery routes. The two ministers signed separate agreements, as Ukraine refused to put their name on the same document as Russians. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were present there, during the event.

The price of wheat per tonne has already set a new record in the European market because of the Russia-Ukraine War. After the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in the last week of February, European agricultural markets became volatile. Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest wheat producing countries, used to meet 12% of global demand. However, Kiev reduced the volume of export of wheat and other agricultural products due to the war. Europe has expressed hope that this agreement between Russia and Ukraine shall solve the problem.

Wheat trade routes at the Black Sea region; Source: TRACECA (2017)

UN chief Guterres welcomed the move, saying: “Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea – a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief. It will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.” The General Secretary also thanked Shoigu and Kubrakov for signing the agreement after months of laborious negotiations. Earlier, the UN estimated that an additional 47 million people had already begun to face “acute hunger” as a direct consequence of the war.

Meanwhile, President Erdoğan, who played an important role during the negotiations, believes that the deal would certainly pave the way for eventual peace in Ukraine. “This joint step we are taking with Ukraine and Russia will hopefully revive the path to peace,” he stressed.

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