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FACTBOX-U.N.-led deal to ensure safe export of Ukraine's grain

By Tuvan Gumrukcu and Jonathan Spicer

ISTANBUL, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Russia said on Saturday it was pulling out of a deal aimed at unlocking Ukrainian grain and fertiliser exports from Black Sea ports and easing global food shortages. Here are details of the U.N.-led Black Sea Initiative, according to senior U.N. officials who briefed reporters when it was signed in July:


The deal aimed to help avert famine by injecting more wheat, sunflower oil and fertilizer into world markets and to ease a dramatic rise in prices. It targeted the pre-war level of 5 million metric tonnes exported from Ukraine each month.

The U.N. World Food Programme said at the time the deal was signed that some 47 million people had moved into a stage of "acute hunger" due to fall-out from the war which halted Ukrainian shipments.

The United Nations and Russia also signed an memorandum of understanding committing the U.N. to facilitating unimpeded access of Russian fertiliser and other products to global markets. "The aim of these to provide some kind of solace to the global south," said one of the U.N. officials.


The deal signed on July 22 was valid for 120 days and the United Nations expected it to be renewed unless the war had ended by then. Work started after the signing to establish inspection teams and staffing a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul overseen by members of all four parties to the agreement.

Negotiations for the deal began in April when U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised the idea in separate meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine.


The deal ensured safe passage in and out of Odesa and two other Ukrainian ports in what the official called a "de facto ceasefire" for the ships and facilities covered.

Though Ukraine has mined the nearby waters as part of its war defences, there is no further need for de-mining. Under the deal, Ukrainian pilots guide the ships along safe channels in its territorial waters, with a minesweeper vessel on hand but no military escorts.

Monitored by the JCC, the ships then transit the Black Sea to Turkey's Bosphorus strait and off to world markets.

All sides agreed there would be no attacks on these entities. If a prohibited activity is observed, it will be the task of the JCC "to resolve it", the official said.


The JCC in Istanbul, which straddles the Bosphorus, monitors all ship movements and inspections, and decides whether, for example, a vessel detracts from agreed channels in the Black Sea. It is staffed by U.N. officials and military officials from the three countries involved.


In response to Russian concerns about ships delivering weapons to Ukraine, all returning ships must be inspected at a Turkish port by a team with representatives from all parties to the agreement and overseen by the JCC.


Since the deal was signed, more than 9 million tonnes of grains and other food products have been exported, U.N. aid chief Martin Griffith said this week. He added the deal had been successful in bringing food prices down and boosting export quantities.


Russia's defence ministry said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol on the annexed Crimean peninsular with 16 drones in the early hours of Saturday, and that British navy "specialists" had helped coordinate the "terrorist" attack.

Russia said it had repelled the attack, with just minor damage to a minesweeper, but that the ships targeted were involved in ensuring the grain corridor.

Zelenskiy's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, accused Russia of inventing "fictitious terrorist attacks on its own facilities" while Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow was using a "false pretext" to sink the deal. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Jonathan Spicer Editing by Ece Toksabay, Mark Heinrich, Frances Kerry and Christina Fincher)

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