Grain agreement near agreement – ​​EU announces new sanctions package

Ukrainian grain field

Kyiv, Brussels The export of millions of tons of grain from the war-torn Ukraine is to be jointly monitored by the conflicting parties under UN leadership. An agreement to end Russia’s grain blockade in the Black Sea, due to be signed on Friday, calls for a joint control center in Istanbul to be run by the United Nations and staffed by representatives from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. The German Press Agency learned this from diplomatic circles in New York.

The desired agreement provides that the precise coordinates for the humanitarian corridor on the sea route between Ukraine and the Bosphorus will also be determined in the control center in Istanbul. According to dpa information, the parties also agreed that ships bound for Ukraine would first be searched in Istanbul to ensure that they were not carrying any weapons or anything similar.

There should be another check in Turkey if ships from Ukraine want to leave the Black Sea again. This is to ensure that only grain is on board. Ships in the humanitarian corridor and the ports involved should not be attacked. The agreement is said to be initially valid for four months.

57 names and organizations appear in the EU’s new sanctions package, which was published in the EU Official Journal late Thursday evening – including the head of the Russian arms holding Rostech and the Russian Sberbank. Above all, however, the export of Russian gold was limited. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the new EU sanctions as pointless, illegal and dangerous for the entire global economy.

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The import ban for gold and gold jewelery from Russia to the EU also applies if the goods were previously sold in a third country. According to the EU Commission, there are exceptions for personal gold jewelry on private trips. In addition, sanctions against the largest Russian bank have been expanded: Sberbank will in future be one of those financial institutions whose money and other resources can be frozen. In addition, no financial or other means may be made available to the bank. Again, there are only a few exceptions.

It is the seventh package agreed by the 27 EU countries in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. “This sends a strong signal to Moscow: We will keep up the pressure for as long as necessary,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter.

Russia and Saudi Arabia want to continue to cooperate

Meanwhile, according to the Russian account, the West’s efforts to cap Russia’s revenues in the oil sector have failed. The Kremlin reported a phone call between President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Both sides had spoken out in favor of continuing to coordinate within the framework of the OPEC Plus conglomerate in order to keep the oil price stable. US President Joe Biden had tried to persuade the Saudi leadership to increase oil production in order to lower the price of oil on which Russia’s war chest depends.

Ukrainian economy and currency under pressure

Meanwhile, Ukraine had to devalue its national currency by 25 percent on Thursday. The central bank justified the move with a view to the changed economic situation in times of war and the stronger US dollar. At the same time, it tightened capital controls. People from Ukrainian accounts can now transfer abroad the equivalent of just under 800 euros per month. Previously, this amount had been three times as high.

The reason for the bad economic situation is also the lack of income from grain exports. Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters in the field.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was optimistic not only about the grain negotiations, but also about the military situation. At a meeting with the heads of reconnaissance, the military and the interior ministry, the situation at the front and the supply of their own troops with new weapons were discussed. We “agreed that we have significant potential to advance our forces on the front lines and inflict significant new casualties on the occupiers,” Zelensky said.

This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the Ukraine war and the consequences:

That will be important on Friday

The agreement in the dispute over grain exports from Ukraine is to be signed on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (CEST) in Istanbul by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among others. It was initially unclear who was coming for the delegations from Russia and Ukraine. The agreement that has now apparently been reached could be the United Nations’ greatest mediation success since the beginning of the war – and at the same time the most important compromise so far between Moscow and Kyiv in the conflict.

The international community has been demanding that Russia allow the export of Ukrainian grain for weeks. Ukraine complains that its ports in the Black Sea are blocked by the Russian Navy. Russia denies blocking wheat exports.

More: Don’t miss any development – everything new in our news blog about the Ukraine war