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Russia-Ukraine war: Kiev confirms plans to reopen Black Sea ports under UN deal

The UN deal will help ease the rising cost of food as exports remain blocked in the Black Sea
Moscow did not comment on Turkey’s announcement said the matter was up to the Russian Military (AFP)

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky confirmed Turkey’s announcement that Kiev will sign a deal with Russia on Friday to reopen its ports on the Black Sea, as food prices continue to grow because of the war. 

Zelensky said late on Thursday that the Black Sea ports could soon be reopened under a UN deal following an announcement in Turkey.

He mentioned that Turkey would be due to make an announcement about the country’s seaports during an update on how Ukrainian forces were faring against Russia.

“Tomorrow we also expect news for our state from Turkey - regarding the unblocking of our ports,” Zelensky said

Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko told Reuters that "a document may be signed which will bind the sides to (ensure) safe functioning of export routes in the Black Sea."

Zelensky's announcement came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan's office said Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal in Turkey on Friday. 

Moscow declined to comment on the Turkish announcement and said the matter was for the Russian Military.

Under the UN deal, ships would be inspected to ensure they are carrying grain and fertiliser and not weapons. The operation will be overseen by a control centre that will be staffed by UN, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials.

Since the start of the war, Russian warships have blocked ports on the Black Sea from exporting and importing goods.

Both countries are major exporters of grain and fertilisers and supply large quantities of wheat to various parts of the Middle East.

Moscow denies that its actions have led to the price of grain skyrocketing across the world and said western sanctions have led to the food crisis. 

Full details on the agreement were not released but UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is expected to visit Turkey on Friday. 

The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a "package" deal - to resume Ukraine's Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertiliser shipments.

Russia on Thursday said the latest round of European Union sanctions would have "devastating consequences" for security and parts of the global economy.