Russia, Ukraine sign deal to reopen ports to grain exports

Russia, Ukraine sign deal to allow grains export

Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov (standing left), United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (seated left), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (seated right) and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar (standing right) attend a signature ceremony of an initiative on the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, in Istanbul, on July 22, 2022.

Photo credit: Ozan Kose | Nation Media Group

Russia and Ukraine sign a landmark deal with the United Nations and Turkey to unblock grain exports which could relieve a global food crisis.

Up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

"Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea -- a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says at the signing ceremony in Istanbul.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says that conditions are in place to unlock grain exports from Ukraine in the "next few days". He promises Moscow will not take advantage of de-mined Ukrainian ports.

The European Union calls for a "swift implementation" of the deal, while the UK says it is vital "Russia's actions match its words". Turkey says it is ready to help Ukraine in the de-mining.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to relentlessly shell the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian presidency says.

It says five people were killed and twice as many injured on Thursday in attacks on Donetsk, the centre of recent fighting.

Donetsk is part of the key industrial Donbas region, on which Russia has been focusing after being repelled from other parts of the country following its February invasion.

In the south Russian forces were shelling villages along the frontline in the Kherson area, where Kyiv's army is trying to claw back Moscow-occupied territory.

The German government agrees a rescue package for key gas company Uniper, which has been brought down by market turmoil from the Ukraine war.

Heavily dependent upon Russian gas, Germany has accused Moscow of using energy as a "weapon", and EU states accuse it of squeezing supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over the war.

The German move to take a 30 percent stake in Uniper comes a day after Russia restored critical gas supplies to Europe through Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline after 10 days of maintenance, but at low volumes.

Russia's central bank cuts its key interest rate to below the level seen before President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February.

The Bank of Russia cut its key interest rate to 8.0 percent from 9.5 percent, pointing to a "further slowdown in annual inflation" but warning that "the external environment for the Russian economy remains challenging."

Pro-Russian authorities of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk People's Republic say they have blocked Google, accusing the US giant of promoting "violence against Russians."

The neighbouring Lugansk People's Republic blocked Google on Thursday.

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