Two more grain ships leave Ukraine: Türkiye
Two more ships have left Ukrainian ports under the Istanbul grain export deal, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said on Aug. 22.
“The shipment of grain at Ukrainian ports continues as planned under the control of the Joint Coordination Center,” the ministry said in its statement.
On July 22, Türkiye, the U.N., Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul to reopen three Ukrainian ports for the export of Ukraine grain, which had been stuck for months due to the Russia-Ukraine war, now in its sixth month.
Around twenty million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine, as a result of the blockade imposed by Russia on Ukrainian ports after the start of the war on Feb. 24.
To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, the Joint Coordination Center (JJC) in Istanbul was officially launched on July 27, comprising of representatives from the three countries and the U.N. to enable safe transportation by merchant ships of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers.
The deal aims to create safe Black Sea shipping corridors to export Ukraine’s desperately needed agricultural products. Checks on ships by inspectors seek to ensure that outbound cargo ships carry only grain, fertilizer, or food and not any other commodities and that inbound ships are not carrying weapons.
The agreement also guarantees Russia the right to export its agricultural products and fertilizers despite Western sanctions.
The JJC has allowed 36 ships to move from and to Ukraine for grain shipment between Aug. 1 and 15. According to official data, Ukraine has already sent 563,317 tons of food products from 21 ships departing from its ports.
Egypt is the top wheat importer from Ukraine with Indonesia following, then comes Türkiye, Yemen and the Philippines.
Implementation of the deal, which is in effect for four months, has proceeded slowly since the first ship embarked on Aug. 1.
The Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni became the first ship to leave Odesa on Aug. 1 for Lebanon.
The JCC team said in a statement that the first ship’s successful passage offered “proof of concept” that the agreement can hold, testing multi-ship operations in the corridor, including an inbound ship.
While tens of thousands of tons of grains are now making their way out with these latest shipments, it’s still a fraction of the 20 million tons of grains that Ukraine says are trapped in the country’s silos and ports and which must be shipped out in order to make space for this year’s harvest.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Aug. 20 thanked Türkiye for its “pivotal role” in the signing of the recent grain export deal.
His remarks came during a joint press conference with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar at the Joint Coordination Center.
Russian fertilizers and agricultural products must be able reach world markets “unimpeded” or a global food crisis could strike as early as next year, Guterres said.
“It is important that all governments and the private sector cooperate to bring them to market,” he added.