First grain ship may leave Odesa today, says Kalın
The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain may leave the Odesa Port early on Aug. 1, the senior adviser and spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, urging the international community to endorse the food corridor deal provided between Moscow and Kiev to give peace a chance.
“We are in constant contact with Ukraine. We also talk to Russians. The ships are ready to leave the Odesa Port,” İbrahim Kalın told private broadcaster Kanal 7 on July 31.
There are still details about the coordinates of the ships and the procedures that need to be fixed while they are in international and the Turkish waters, Kalın stated. “There are still a few problems that we have to resolve with Russians. If we can overcome them until tonight, then we can be ready for the first ship to leave the port.”
Kalın’s statement followed the news that the first ship with the Turkish flag has already been loaded with grain and ready to lead a convoy of ships into the Black Sea as part of an agreement the two warring sides, Ukraine and Russia, agreed with Türkiye and the U.N.
Earlier on July 31, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had phone conversations with Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Alexander Kurbakov and Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov to discuss the preparations in the three Ukrainian ports designated as venues for Ukrainian grain export.
They have confirmed that all the technical works are completed and the operation may start as soon as possible after administrative efforts are also accomplished. Turkish and Ukrainian officials also expressed satisfaction with the harmonious work of the Joint Coordination Center established in Istanbul by Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the U.N. The center will be responsible for all the stages of the export operation.
Escalation observed following deal
But Kalın urged that escalation in the armed conflict has been observed since the agreement was signed, recalling the Ukrainian officials’ warning that “We have approved the deal but if the war escalates and prisoners are killed that the shipment can be interrupted.”
It is very important to make this agreement functional, Kalın said, adding, “But applauding this deal is not sufficient. It should be supported. It is not impossible to resume peace talks if the grain shipment can succeed.”
The whole world should do its best in defending the grain agreement to prevent a major escalation between Russia and Ukraine in two to three months, the adviser stressed, underlining that Ankara’s efforts, including Erdoğan’s diplomatic shuttle between Russian and Ukrainian leaders, to this end will continue.
“This grain deal would not be possible if these talks would not happen. There is no other leader who can hold talks with both Russia, the West and Ukraine,” he stated, referring to Erdoğan.
In this context, Erdoğan will travel to Sochi on Aug. 5 to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kalın recalled, informing that all the issues concerning the ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as the grain export, will be on the table of the two leaders.