Russia and Ukraine have agreed to resume shipments of grain, a step that will release tons of food to countries facing hunger and shortages. The deal, brokered by Turkey and United Nations officials, is a remarkable achievement of diplomacy in a time of war. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called it “a beacon of hope” prior to the signing ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday.
What it means: Ukraine is one of the world’s premier grain exporters, providing more than 45 million tons of grain annually. The U.N. estimates that grain from Ukraine feeds 400 million people globally. However, a Russian naval blockade blocked nearly half of Ukraine’s exports since the invasion began in February, cutting a vital food staple to millions of people.
Friday’s agreement opens grain and fertilizer shipments from three Ukrainian ports: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. According to Guterres, the plan will help stabilize food prices by bolstering the supply chain.
What’s next? Tensions remain high between Russia and Ukraine. Officials from each country had to sign separate deals with Guterres and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar to reach the agreement. A control center in Istanbul run by officials from the three countries and the U.N. will monitor the process of resuming exports.