A Joint Coordination Center to deal with the issue of safely export of grain from Ukraine officially opened in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 27, Turkish news agency Anadolu has reported.
Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar was present at the opening ceremony for the center, set up under a deal to allow Ukraine to resume exporting its grain crops, the news agency said.
“We believe that this work will make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis, which has affected the whole world,” Akar said.
He said this would be especially useful in terms of reducing grain prices.
Russia has been blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports since it launched its full-scale invasion of the country on Feb. 23. It has captured ports on the Azov Sea coast, and mined the sea lanes approaching Ukrainian-held ports.
This, in turn, has created shortages of Ukrainian grain on the international markets, prompting prices to rise and raising fears of famine in parts of Africa and Asia, which import large amounts of Ukrainian grain. Russia has also attacked rail and farm infrastructure to hamper Ukrainian grain exports, and appears to be deliberately firing shells into Ukrainian fields to burn crops.
There are also reports that Russia has loaded stolen Ukrainian grain at ports in the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea, and shipped it under false documentation as Russian-produced grain.
Under the terms of the agreement, the center in Istanbul will check ships bound for Ukrainian ports to see if weapons are being transported on them.