Russia and Ukraine will sign an elusive agreement on Friday aimed at resuming shipments of grain across the Black Sea for the first time since the February invasion of the Kremlin.
Here’s what we know about this deal:
-Joint command and control-
A Joint Command and Control Center will be set up in Istanbul to oversee smooth operations and resolve disputes.
Participants include two war parties and officials, Turkey and the United Nations.
Western officials believe it will take three to four weeks to establish the center. This means that the grain may not start flowing at full speed again until late August.
Its location in Istanbul is Turkey’s central location and is in favor of both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s important role in resolving disputes that often seem out of control.
Ship inspection remained one of the most complex and politically responsible parts of the agreement.
Landmines are laid around Ukraine’s main Black Sea port to avoid feared Russian amphibious attacks.
Ukraine also did not want Russia to board the ship to check the possibility of delivering weapons when the ship returned to the port.
Western officials said both sides agreed that Russia’s required ship inspections would be too difficult to carry out in the open ocean.
Instead, four parties oversaw them in one of Turkey’s ports, perhaps Istanbul, on their way back to Ukraine.
It is not yet clear who can board the Ukrainian ship.
Authorities say demining in this area was quickly decided to take too long to mitigate the threat of hunger that spreads to some of the world’s poorest parts of the world.
Western officials say the agreement ensures that Ukrainians operate their vessels along safe routes or “corridors” to avoid known minefields.
Ukrainian ships move grain ships into and out of Ukrainian waters.
Both sides also promised not to attack the ship on the way in and out.
This point is also controversial. Ukraine warns that Russia’s promises have been repeatedly broken during the war and that it does not trust Russia’s promises.
“Even if they sign an agreement with the United Nations, we don’t trust them,” Ukrainian delegation member Rustem Umerov told reporters.
“This is an invading country.”
Attacks and conflicts at sea are sent to the Joint Command and Control Center in Istanbul for review.
The deal could be broken when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this week that he hopes his grain will also be covered by the deal.
Russia has been plagued by a wave of sanctions on shipping companies and agricultural products such as fertilizers.
Last week, the US Treasury announced that Russia’s fertilizers and “agricultural products” were not subject to trade restrictions.
The European Union on Wednesday also made the exception of Russian wheat and fertilizer.
The United Nations and Russia will sign separate memorandums of understanding in Istanbul that ensure that grains and fertilizers are not directly or indirectly affected by sanctions.
The contract will be signed at 1330 GMT at the luxurious Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul in the presence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The warring side is expected to be represented by Russian Defense Minister Sergej Kužuge and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Kublakov.
The contract is valid for 120 days and may be automatically renewed without further negotiation.
It covers two locations adjacent to the port of the Black Sea in Ukraine in Odesa.
Authorities believe that 120 days is sufficient to remove up to 25 million tonnes of untreated wheat and other grains that are stagnant in Ukrainian ports.