Small signature and big commitments. At 3:30 p.m. this Friday (1:30 p.m. GMT), Ukraine and Russia will sign an agreement that could save the world from sinking into an unprecedented food crisis. Negotiated for two months in Istanbul in Turkey, it is supposed to unblock the export of Ukrainian cereal production, in exchange for compensation for Russia. Here’s what it should contain.
Creation of a coordination and control center
It will be in Istanbul and will be led by delegates from the parties involved: a Ukrainian, a Russian, a Turk and a UN representative, assisted by their respective teams.
They will be responsible for establishing the timetable for ship rotations in the Black Sea. According to the experts involved in the negotiation, three to four weeks are still needed to finalize the details and make it operational.
Dockside Ship Inspection
The inspection of the ships carrying the grain was a requirement of Moscow, which wanted to ensure that they would not simultaneously deliver arms to Ukraine.
These inspections will not take place at sea as envisaged for a time for practical reasons, but will take place in Turkey, probably in Istanbul, which has two major commercial ports, at the entrance to the Bosphorus (Haydarpasa) and on the sea of Marmara (Ambarli). Conducted by representatives of the four parties, they will take place at the departure and arrival of ships.
Safe navigation corridors
Russians and Ukrainians undertake to respect shipping lanes through the Black Sea free of any military activity. Under the agreement, if demining is required, it must be carried out by a “third country” – other than the three involved – but which is not (yet) specified.
Departing from Ukraine, the ships will be escorted by Ukrainian ships (probably military) clearing the way to the exit from Ukrainian territorial waters.
A counterpart for Russian cereals and fertilizers
A memorandum of understanding must accompany this agreement, signed by the United Nations and Russia, guaranteeing that Western sanctions against Moscow will not concern cereals and fertilizers, directly or indirectly.
This was a requirement from Russia which made it a sine qua non for the signing of the agreement.
For how long ?
The agreement would be signed for four months and automatically renewed. If 20 to 25 tonnes of cereals are currently overdue in the silos of Ukrainian ports, and at the rate of eight tonnes evacuated per month, this period of four months should be enough to sell off the stocks.