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A deal was signed by Moscow and Kyiv Friday to allow for the safe export of grains and other food products from Ukraine as the world grapples with a mounting food crisis.
“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters. “The question has not been what is good for one side or the other.
“The focus has been on what matters most for the people of our world,” he continued. “And let there be no doubt – this is an agreement for the world.”
Officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations sealed an agreement that so that merchant ships can transport shipments through the Black Sea amid Russia’s deadly war in Ukraine.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this agreement did not come easy,” the UN chief said.
Guterres did not detail the exact agreement, but said three Ukrainian ports, Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny, will be opened in the Black Sea to allow for “significant volumes” food exports.
Preliminary talks suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin would agree to a cease-fire to allow Ukrainian naval vessels to escort merchant ships.
The Ukrainian naval vessels would be tasked with sweeping the waters for explosive mines – a precaution made necessary after roughly 400 mines were launched in the Black Sea by Russian forces earlier this year.
Moscow has also accused Kyiv of launching its own mines.
Turkey, which has been instrumental in hosting the export negotiations, would be responsible for inspecting all ships to appease Russian concerns regarding arms smuggling.
The UN would also establish an office in Istanbul to monitor the security situation.
Guterres said the deal “will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.”
“It will help stabilize global food prices which were already at record levels even before the war – a true nightmare for developing countries,” he added.
Check back on this developing story.