Ukraine, Russia sign deal to reopen grains export amid escalating tensions

23rd July, 2022

Ukraine and Russia on Friday signed an agreement to reopen the Ukrainian Black Sea ports for the export of grains after two months of talks headed by the United Nations and Turkey. The landmark agreement between two of the world’s biggest grain producers comes with the hope of preventing an international food crisis. 

Both Ukraine and Russia sent their defence and infrastructure ministers to sign the agreement in Istanbul. The ceremony was also attended by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres and President of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, who hailed the deal as a ‘beacon of hope’ which will help prevent famine and global food inflation. 

The agreement between the two countries established several safe passages. Ukrainian ships can come in and out of the three designated Black Sea ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. Russia pledged to not take advantage of the open ports while Ukraine warned of a swift military response in case of any ‘provocations’ ahead of the signing. 

However, as the war raged on in East Ukraine, the representatives of Ukraine and Russia avoided shaking hands at the ceremony and refused to sit at the same table. The deal which comes after five months of war is expected to be implemented in a few weeks. It hopes to restore the grain shipments to pre-war levels and avert famine among millions of families. 

Dinesh Gunawardena appointed as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka as military uses force to disperse protestors

23rd July, 2022

Dinesh Gunawardena, a political ally of the Rajapaksa family, was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka by President Renil Wickremsinghe on Friday. Gunawardena, a schoolmate of President Wickremsinghe, had also served as an Education Minister and Foreign Minister. In April 2022, he was appointed as the Home Minister by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 

The appointment of Gunawardena as Prime Minister comes hours after Sri Lankan Military and troops used assault rifles and batons to forcibly remove anti government protestors outside the main protest site which has been occupied for months, that is, the presidential office. 

The pre-dawn raid carried out by the troops led to the arrest of numerous protestors while some were admitted to hospitals for injuries. The use of excessive force by the Sri Lankan government was criticised by the opposition as well as several ambassadors and western envoys in Colombo.

The protestors who had occupied and left the Prime Minister and President house refused to accept Renil Wickremsinghe as their President holding him partially responsible for the ongoing economic and political crisis in the country. A new 18 minister cabinet was also sworn in the Parliament after Renil Wickremsinghe was elected the President of Sri Lanka on Wednesday. 

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