Latest war news between Russia and Ukraine: live updates

attributed to him…Nicole Tong for The New York Times

BRUSSELS – There are many influencing parts to the Russia-Ukraine grain deal that officials did not believe was possible until mid-June, not least because the war continued and trust between the two parties was very low.

Here’s what to know about the grain problem, and how it can be addressed now.

Why was the Ukrainian grain stuck inside the country?

After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, it deployed warships along the Ukrainian coast on the Black Sea. Ukraine mined those waters to deter a Russian naval attack. This means that the ports used to export Ukrainian grain have been closed for commercial shipping. Russia also stole grain stocks, mined grain fields so they could not be harvested, and destroyed grain storage facilities.

attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

How will the process work?

Ukrainian captains will drive ships full of grain out of the ports of Odessa, Yuzhny and Chornomorsk.

A joint command center with officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations will be established immediately in Istanbul to monitor all movements of the fleets.

The ships will head to Turkish waters, to be inspected by a joint team of Turkish, United Nations, Ukrainian and Russian officials, then deliver their cargo to destinations around the world, and return for another inspection by the joint team before returning to Ukraine.

The agreement specifies that the inspection team’s primary responsibility is to check “unauthorized cargo and personnel on board ships destined for or from Ukrainian ports”. The main Russian demand was that the returning ships do not carry weapons to Ukraine.

The parties agreed that ships and port facilities used in their operations would be protected from hostilities.

The operation is expected to quickly begin shipping five million tons of grain per month. At this rate, and given that 2.5 million tons are already being transported by road and river to Ukraine’s friendly neighbors, stocks of nearly 20 million tons should be removed within three to four months. This will free up space in storage facilities for the new harvest already underway in Ukraine.

What are the risks?

A large-scale cease-fire was not negotiated, so the ships would travel through a war zone. Attacks near ships or in the ports they use could undermine the agreement. Another risk is dishonesty or disagreement between the inspectors and the joint command officials.

The role of the United Nations and Turkey is to mediate such disagreements on the spot, and to monitor and implement the agreement. The agreement is valid for 120 days, and the United Nations hopes it will be renewed.

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attributed to him…Sergey Popock/AFP – Getty Images

Will this immediately solve world hunger and lower food prices?

No, world hunger is an ongoing problem due to poor food distribution and price gouging, and it hits some parts of the world year after year. They are often exacerbated by conflicts and also affected by climate change. The war in Ukraine, which produces a large share of the world’s wheat, has added an enormous burden to grain distribution networks, driving up prices and fueling hunger.

Officials say the agreement has the potential to increase the flow of wheat into Somalia within weeks, avert a mass famine, and should lead to a gradual decline in global grain prices. But given the fragility of the agreement, it is unlikely that grain markets will return to normal immediately.

What is there for Russia?

Russia is also a major exporter of grain and fertilizer, and the agreement is supposed to facilitate the sale of these commodities on the world market.

The Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that its stockpile cannot be exported due to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

The measures don’t actually affect those goods, but private shipping companies, insurance companies, banks and other companies have been reluctant to help Russia export grain and fertilizer, fearing it would run counter to sanctions or that doing business with Russia could damage its reputation. .

The EU offered reassurances, issuing on July 21 a legal clarification of the sanctions it imposes, saying that many banks and other companies involved in the grain trade were not in fact banned.

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Armed with similar assurances from the United States, the United Nations said it has held talks with the private sector, and that trade from Russia – particularly the Russian port of Novorossiysk – should accelerate.

revision:

July 22 2022

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the process agreed upon by Ukraine and Russia for grain ships. The ships will carry their cargo to various destinations and return to Ukrainian ports, stopping for inspections in Turkey. Their cargo will not necessarily be unloaded in Turkey to be taken to their destinations by other ships.

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