Ukrainian grain export coordination center opens in Istanbul
The first shipment of grains and fertilizers is expected to depart from Black Sea ports within days
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday unveiled a center in Istanbul that will oversee the export of Ukrainian grains, after a landmark UN deal last week.
The first shipment is expected to depart from Black Sea ports within days.
Russia and Ukraine signed the deal – brokered by Ankara and the United Nations – on Friday to reopen grain and fertilizer exports that were blocked by war to ease an international food crisis.
Ukraine and Russia accounted for around a third of global wheat exports before Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor.
The joint coordination center (JCC) will oversee departures from three Ukrainian ports in which ships must circumvent mines, and will inspect vessels for weapons.
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All ships and parties passing through Turkish waters will appoint representatives at the JCC to monitor the plan’s implementation – a total of 20 personnel from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN will work side-by-side there.
Speaking at the National Defense University, where the JCC is located, Akar said more than 25 million tons of grain were waiting to be exported.
"Currently, the preparation and planning is continuing for the first ships laden with grain that will leave Ukrainian ports," Akar told reporters.
The deal was almost immediately jeopardized after Russia fired cruise missiles on the port of Odesa, Ukraine’s largest, last week, not even a day after the signing ceremony.
Both Moscow and Kyiv said they will push forward with the agreement, the first major diplomatic breakthrough since the conflict sparked five months ago.