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Russian, Ukrainian Officials Sign Grain Export Deal Aimed At Easing Global Crisis

Russian, Ukrainian Officials Sign Grain Export Deal Aimed At Easing Global Crisis

Russian and Ukrainian officials have signed a UN-backed deal aimed at allowing grain exports to leave Ukraine to help ease a global food crisis caused in part by Moscow's unprovoked invasion of it neighbor.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate mirror agreements with the United Nations and Turkey on July 22 that UN chief Antonio Guterres said will benefit developing countries "on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added at a signing ceremony in Istanbul that the agreement will help ease global food inflation by unlocking the export of some 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to the war.

"In case of provocations, there will be an immediate military response," he wrote, adding all inspections of transport ships will be carried out by joint teams in Turkish waters "should the need arise."

Guterres said that the country's biggest export hub, Odesa, would be reopened along with ports in Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

The European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said the bloc welcomed the deal, calling it in a tweet "a critical step in overcoming the global food insecurity caused by Russia‘s aggression against Ukraine."

Speaking separately at the Aspen Security Forum in the U.S. state of Colorado, senior U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland praised the level of detail of the agreement.

"It's now incumbent on Russia to actually implement this deal. But it is very well-structured in terms of monitoring and in terms of channels that the grain ought to be able to get out of," said Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

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