Istanbul Black Sea grain centre begins activities

The United Nations and Turkey on Tuesday opened a joint centre with Russia and Ukraine in İstanbul coordinate the delivery of grain deliveries across the Black Sea, SoL news site reported.

The centre, agreed as part of a landmark deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N. and sees the formation of "safe corridors" which allow the movement of cargo ships, was launched in a ceremony attended by a Russian defence delegation and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, it said.

Ukraine and Russia on Friday signed a breakthrough agreement in Istanbul designed to help relieve a global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain exports. Since the Russian invasion that began in February, grain shipments from Ukrainian-controlled ports on the Black Sea have stalled, with some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos, threatening a worldwide food crisis. The agreement marks the first major deal between the warring sides.

Kyiv on Monday said they hoped to send their first ships full of grain since the country’s invasion later this week, Reuters reported.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said there were no limits on how much grain could be exported under the agreement, which also allows for fertilizer imports and exports, it said.

Russia and Ukraine supply more than half of the world’s sunflower oil and about 30 percent of the world’s wheat, according to the U.N., which has said  nearly 50 million people around the globe have begun to face “acute hunger” as a direct consequence of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Friday’s agreement will see Ukrainian pilot vessels lead merchant ships through minefields in and out of Ukrainian ports, allowing shipments through the Black Sea and out through the Bosporus.

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