UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has hailed the accord a “beacon of hope”

Russia and Ukraine have signed a landmark deal on Friday to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, raising hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion can be eased, reports Reuters.

The accord was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said was aimed at restoring Ukrainian grain exports while easing Russian grain and fertiliser shipments, despite tough Western sanctions on Moscow.

“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” said Guterres. ”A beacon of hope…, possibility…and relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”

Commenting on the agreement, Neil Roberts, head of Marine and Aviation at the Lloyd’s Market Association, said: “Given the circumstances, this a remarkable outcome, achieved through weeks of patient negotiation.

”The specialists in the London insurance market stand ready to support this humanitarian enterprise and will look forward to assessing the details in due course.” 

It is hoped the agreement will help to ease supply chain bottlenecks and the spiralling cost of wheat, with Russia and Ukraine representing around 30% of the global supply. 

The United Nations has previously warned of the destabilising potential of disrupted supply chains and inflation. Unsubsidised food prices have gone up by 50% since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“All of this is planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in March 2022.

Verisk Maplecroft warned a rise in civil unrest was ‘inevitable, in middle-income countries, which were able to offer social protection during the pandemic but will now find it difficult to maintain that level of spending as the cost-of-living surges”.