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23 Jul, 2022 17:27

Turkey issues update on Ukrainian grain exports

Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey have started their work in a dedicated UN-backed body in Istanbul
Turkey issues update on Ukrainian grain exports

The Joint Coordination Center, established under the landmark UN-brokered deal to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports, has begun its work in Istanbul, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday.

“Representatives of Russia and Ukraine, as well as of the UN, have now started to work together with Turkey at the Joint Coordination Center,” Akar told Anadolu Agency in a statement. 

The minister made the remark as he commented on the alleged missile strike on the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, a major trade hub in the southwest of the country. Kiev officials have placed the blame squarely on Moscow for the incident, stating that the port was targeted with at least four cruise missiles. Two of the projectiles were intercepted, while those that made it past anti-aircraft defenses caused only minor damage to the facility, leaving the grain silos unscathed, Ukraine has claimed.

Such an incident coming only a day after the deal was struck was rather “disturbing,” Akar admitted, but he hopes that the work of the center will continue regardless.  
“The fact that this incident took place right after the agreement we made yesterday regarding the grain shipment has really worried us, and we are disturbed by this. However, we continue to fulfill our responsibilities in the agreement,” Akar said.

While Moscow has remained silent on the matter so far, it had repeatedly said before that it strikes only military targets on Ukrainian soil in the ongoing conflict. Akar said Ankara was maintaining contact with both Kiev and Moscow over the alleged attack.

“Russians told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and that they were examining the affair very closely and in detail,” the minister revealed.

The “reported strikes” on the Odessa port have already been “unequivocally” condemned by the UN. “Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets,” Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, adding that the grain products “are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe.”