All parties to the deal have ratified their commitments, with grain expected to start flowing ‘within days’.
The United Nations expects cargo ships carrying grain from Ukraine to depart within days, Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said on Monday. He told a regular news briefing that all parties to the UN-backed deal, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, have reiterated their commitments to the deal, which is designed to unblock grain exports.
“We can tell you that since the signing of the agreement, the parties to the Initiative and the United Nations have been in constant contact, including yesterday. All parties have reaffirmed their commitment to the Initiative. Haq said. “By tomorrow all parties and the United Nations will have a presence in the joint coordination center in Istanbul.”
The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain is expected to begin transit. “In a few days” The spokesperson said without providing a more precise time frame. “The Joint Coordination Center will liaise with the shipping industry and publish detailed procedures for vessels in the near future,Haq added.
The historic agreement was signed in Istanbul last week by representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey to enable the export of Ukrainian fertilizers, grain and other foodstuffs.
A day after the deal was signed, however, Kyiv accused Russia of targeting grain silos at the major commercial port of Odessa with at least four cruise missiles. Moscow has denied targeting port infrastructure, reiterating its position that it targets exclusively military targets. In Odessa, Russia said it hit a Ukrainian navy ship and a warehouse of Western-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the grain deal was in no way linked to the ongoing military operation against the country. “Under the grain agreement, Russia did not accept any obligations that would prevent the continuation of special military operations and the destruction of military infrastructure”. Lavrov said.
The top diplomat noted that “The grain terminal in Odessa is located far from military installations.” And Moscow has not created any barriers to grain exports through its actions.