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26 Jul, 2022 14:56

Ukrainian grain center launched in Turkey – Moscow

Russian delegation is due to arrive to Istanbul soon to enforce exports deal with Kiev, Defense Ministry has said
Ukrainian grain center launched in Turkey – Moscow

The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul which was established as part of the deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine, has started operations, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.

Moscow’s delegation is due to arrive in the Turkish city to take part in a four-way format that comprises Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Nations. The Russian group of experts is headed by Rear Admiral Eduard Luik, the ministry said.

“The main task of Russian specialists in the JCC will be to promptly resolve all necessary issues for the initiative to reach the stage of practical implementation,” it noted.

The Russian representatives are set to start working after Russia and Ukraine signed a UN- and Turkey-brokered deal last week to unblock much-awaited grain exports from the nation. Under this agreement, the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul will oversee shipments from Ukraine to elsewhere and maintain safe transit routes for these shipments across the Black Sea. 

Russia and the United Nations also signed a memorandum providing for the UN’s involvement in lifting international sanctions on the export of Russian grain and fertilizers to world markets.

At the time, the deal was touted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as “a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.” He also thanked Kiev and Moscow for “putting aside [their] differences” in a move that can potentially alleviate the food crisis in developing countries.

The agreement, however, soon came under question after Russia conducted a strike on the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Saturday, saying that it had destroyed “a docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse of Harpoon anti-ship missiles, supplied by the US to the Kiev regime.”

The strike was decried by both Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky and Antonio Guterres. The latter said at the time that “the full implementation [of the deal] by Russia, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative” in order to ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe.

Following the attack, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out that the strike did not violate the deal because “Russia did not assume any obligations that would prevent the continuation of the special military operation and the destruction of military infrastructure.” He also noted that “the grain terminal in Odessa is located at a considerable distance from military facilities.”

Wheat deliveries from Ukraine, a major producer of the commodity, were disrupted after Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring state in late February. Kiev and some Western officials previously accused Russia of deliberately preventing the shipments, but Moscow repeatedly insisted that Ukraine made these impossible by laying naval mines in the waterways around the ports.

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