Grain exports deal signed between Russia, Ukraine, UN and Turkey

Russia and Ukraine signed separate accords with the UN and Turkey on Friday to reopen Ukraine's Black Sea ports to grain exports, in an effort to ease an international food crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Read about how the day's events unfolded on our live blog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

11:12pm: US to push Russia to fulfill Ukraine grain deal

The United States said on Friday it will hold Russia accountable for implementing a UN-brokered deal to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports.

Russia and Ukraine are major global wheat suppliers, and Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbor sent food prices soaring, stoking a global food crisis the World Food Programme says has pushed some 47 million people into “acute hunger”.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington hopes the deal “will help mitigate the crisis Russia has caused”, adding that “we will be watching closely to ensure that Russia actually follows through”.

10:12pm: Zelensky says UN responsible for guaranteeing grain deal

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said the UN was responsible for guaranteeing a landmark deal between Ukraine and Russia aimed at unblocking Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports and alleviating a global food crisis.

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"Russia could engage in provocations, attempts to discredit the Ukrainian and international efforts. But we trust the United Nations. Now it's their responsibility to guarantee the deal," he said in his daily video address.

9:24pm: Myhailo Podolyak, one of President Zelensky's senior advisers, urges caution on grain exports deal

Myhailo Podolyak, one of President Zelensky's senior advisers, said that although Ukraine broadly welcomes the grain exports deal signed between Russia, Ukraine, the UN and Turkey he still urged caution. He stressed Ukraine was trying to do its part to alleviate the crisis on global food markets and particularly in preventing a more serious food crisis in Africa. "Let's give it some time and wait and see how this system works," Podolyak said. He also stressed that this was not an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, but rather one between Ukraine, Turkey, the UN and another between Russia, Turkey and the UN. FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reports that there are still a few unanswered questions on how the deal will play out.

8:00pm: US White House approves up to $270 million more in defense aid to Ukraine

The White House announced Friday that the U.S. is sending an additional $270 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a package that will include additional medium range rocket systems and tactical drones.

The package, authorized by U.S. President Joe Biden, will allow Kiev to acquire 580 of privately-held AEVEX Aerospace LLC's Phoenix Ghost unmanned aerial vehicles, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a briefing.

The package includes another tranche of up to around $175 million for other defense aid, a separate White House memo said.

7:37pm: Red Cross hails grain exports deal as 'life-saving'

Red Cross Director-General Robert Mardini described the landmark grain exports deal signed in Istanbul on Friday as "nothing short of life-saving for people across the world who are struggling to feed their families." Mardini noted the impact of the grain crisis saying that over the past six months prices for food staples had risen 187% in Sudan, 86% in Syria, 60% in Yemen and 54% in Ethiopia.

7:21pm: Ukraine grain crisis is a 'wake-up call' for Africa, South African President Ramaphosa says

The Ukraine grain crisis should act as a "wake-up call" for Africa to become self-reliant and produce its own cereals and fertilisers, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February has prevented millions of tonnes of Ukrainian wheat and other grain from leaving the country's ports, sparking fears of global shortages.

Ramaphosa spoke as Russia and Ukraine on Friday penned a landmark deal with the UN and Turkey to unblock Black Sea delivery routes, which could ease the global food crisis.

The South African president said the recent grain supply crunch should spur African countries to boost food production to reduce imports.

"Do we want to continue for years to come to rely, for our grains, for our fertilisers, on that part of the world?" he said at a press conference in Pretoria.

"Or should we say this conflict is a wake-up call like Covid became a wake-up call to many of us on the African continent to start producing our own vaccines?"

Ukraine's farms are a major source of grain for the world market, in particular in the Middle East and Africa, where food supplies are critically tight.

7:07pm: Canada's Trudeau says he has little confidence in Russia grain pledge

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he had little confidence that Russia would fulfill its side of a bargain reached with Ukraine, Turkey and the UN on resuming grain shipments from Ukraine.

Nonetheless he is "optimistic" the grain will find its way "to places around the world where it is needed," he told a news conference, as the ink on the deal to reopen blocked Black Sea delivery routes had barely dried.

"Canada's confidence in Russia's reliability is pretty much nil," said Trudeau.

"They have demonstrated nothing but poor faith," he said. "They have precipitated a global energy crisis (and) a global food crisis with their invasion of Ukraine, and the rest of us have been working very, very hard to try and mitigate those issues around the world."

6:29pm: Turkey ready to help de-mine Ukraine ports, a top aide to Erdogan says

Turkey is ready to help Ukraine de-mine its ports under a landmark agreement restoring grain deliveries across the Black Sea, a top aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday.

"In case of need, de-mining could be provided by a third country. As Turkey, we are ready to offer our help," Erdogan's foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Turkey’s NTV television after the grain deal was signed in Istanbul.

5:17pm: EU calls for the 'swift implementation' of Russia, Ukraine grain deal

The EU on Friday cautiously welcomed deals signed by Russia and Ukraine with the UN and Turkey to resume grain shipments that could ease a global food crisis in which millions face hunger.

"Today's Istanbul agreement is a step in the right direction. We call for its swift implementation," tweeted the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Russia‘s illegal invasion of Ukraine has left millions at risk of hunger.

Today‘s #Istanbul agreement is a step in the right direction. We call for its swift implementation.

Welcome efforts by @UN and Turkey.

The #EU is committed to continue helping export Ukraine’s grain.

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) July 22, 2022

4:44pm: Grain exports deal signed between Russia, Ukraine, UN and Turkey

Russia and Ukraine signed a deal on Friday to reopen grains exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports in an agreement that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said would help ease a global food crisis.

Government ministers from Russia and Ukraine signed the deal separately, carefully avoiding sitting at the same table and avoiding shaking hands at the event in Istanbul.

"Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope (and) possibility… and relief in a world that needs it more than ever," Guterres said at the signing ceremony, calling on Russia and Ukraine to fully implement the accord.

Erdogan said the deal, also signed by Turkey, will help prevent famine and ease global food inflation.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signs the grain agreement on July 22, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. © Umit Bekta, Reuters

1:55pm: Russia taking hundreds of casualties daily in Ukraine war, says US official

The United States believes that Russia's military is sustaining hundreds of casualties a day in its war in Ukraine, including having lost thousands of lieutenants and captains in total, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the United States also believed that Ukraine had destroyed more than 100 "high-value" Russian targets inside Ukraine, including command posts, ammunition depots and air-defense sites.

1:39pm: Ukraine says will only sign grain deal with UN, Turkey

Kyiv said Friday Ukraine will only sign an agreement with Turkey and the UN to resume grain exports that were disrupted by Moscow's invasion, excluding any direct deals with Russia.

"Ukraine does not sign any documents with Russia. We will sign an agreement with Turkey and the UN," presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote on Twitter, adding that Russia would be signing a separate "mirror" agreement.

Regarding the Istanbul agreement "on the export of 🇺🇦 grain". Previously.

1. Ukraine does not sign any documents with Russia. We sign an agreement with Turkey and the UN and undertake obligations to them. Russia signs a mirror agreement with Turkey and the UN. 1/2

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) July 22, 2022

He vowed a Ukrainian "military response" to any "provocations" from Russia and said Moscow's ships and representatives would not be allowed in Ukrainian ports used for grain exports.

11:25am: Command centre, inspections: What we know of grain deal

Hours before Ukrainian and Russian officials are set to sign a deal in Istanbul to reopen Black Sea ports to grain exports, some details of the agreement are emerging. The full text of the final agreement has not been released, but experts and negotiators involved in the talks say the new measures include a command centre to oversee navigation as well as inspection provisions.

Click here for more details of the deal.

10:47am: Eastern Ukraine separatist regions block Google

Pro-Russian authorities of eastern Ukraine's breakaway regions have blocked Google, accusing the US giant of promoting "violence against Russians".

"We took the decision to block Google on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic," rebel leader Denis Pushilin said on Telegram, accusing it of promoting "violence against Russians, in particular the people of the Donbas".

In Luhansk, which is also in the Donbas, pro-Russian separatist authorities blocked Google on Thursday.

Pushilin accused Google of working "openly on the orders of its curators in the American government".

He claimed the West and Ukraine were "creating unprecedented pressure on the physical and psychological safety" of the republic, aimed at "breaking" its people.

"We cannot tolerate this anymore," he said. "This is how you deal with criminals in any society: they are isolated from people."

7:58am: Russia has increased air defence missile use: UK

Russia has increased its use of air defence missiles in a secondary ground attack mode because of critical shortages of dedicated ground-attack missiles, according to the latest British military intelligence assessment.

Moscow has almost certainly deployed S-300 and S-400 strategic air defence systems designed to shoot down aircraft and missiles at long ranges from the start of the invasion, said the British ministry of defence.

The weapons have relatively small warheads and are designed to destroy aircraft, it said, adding that they could pose a significant threat against troops in the open and light buildings but are unlikely to penetrate hardened structures.

There is a high chance of these weapons missing their intended targets and causing civilian casualties because the missiles are not optimised for this role and their crews will have little training for such missions, the defence ministry said.

6:54am: Ukraine's ports to reopen under deal to be signed in Istanbul: Turkey

Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal later Friday to reopen Ukraine's Black Sea ports for grain exports, according to the Turkish presidential office.

Ukraine and Russia, both among the world's biggest exporters of food, did not immediately confirm the announcement. But in a late night video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hinted his country's Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked. "Tomorrow, we also expect news for our state from Turkey – regarding the unblocking of our ports."

Full details of the agreement were not immediately released. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres heads to Turkey, a UN spokesperson said. The agreement is due to be signed on Friday at 1330 GMT, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's office said.

The blockade by Russia's Black Sea fleet has reduced supplies to markets around the world and sent grain prices soaring since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighbouring Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The UN and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a "package" deal – to resume Ukraine's Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertiliser shipments.

11:30pm: Zelensky says Ukraine’s military can cause Russia ‘major losses'

Ukraine's military has the potential to make gains on the battlefield and inflict major losses on Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night address on Thursday after meeting senior commanders.

Zelensky said the meeting had discussed the supply of modern weapons, adding the intensity of attacks on the Russians had to be stepped up.

"(We) agreed that our forces have the strong potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict significant new losses on the occupiers," he said.

Zelensky hinted his country's Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked. "And tomorrow we also expect news for our state from Turkey – regarding the unblocking of our ports."

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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