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Military delegations from Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, along with UN officials, attend a meeting to discuss the shipment of Ukrainian grain blocked due to the blockade of Black Sea ports, at the Kalender pavilion in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 13. (Arif Akdogan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Talks between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations held in Istanbul on Wednesday resulted in an agreement between the parties to form “a joint coordination center under the auspices of the United Nations” to ensure the safety of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, according to Andriy Yermak. , Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

The center will be located in Istanbul and the task will be to carry out “general monitoring and coordination of navigation safety in the Black Sea”, Yermak said on Wednesday.

Trucks loaded with grain wait in a queue near Izmail, Odessa region, Ukraine on June 14.
Trucks loaded with grain wait in a queue near Izmail, Odessa region, Ukraine on June 14. (Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images)

A bit of context: More than 20 million tonnes of grain remain stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports, according to Ukrainian officials.

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly 30% of world trade, and Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter and fifth-largest wheat exporter, according to the US State Department. . The United Nations World Food Program – which helps tackle global food insecurity – buys around half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not open.

Around 80% of Ukraine’s grain exports were shipped from the country’s Black Sea ports before the Russian invasion.

With those roads blocked, Ukraine hopes to speed up grain exports by reopening the Danube roads, made possible after Ukrainian troops recaptured Snake Island in June.

A line of barges waiting to sail up the Danube and load grain at one of Ukraine’s river ports will take several weeks to clear, Deputy Agrarian Policy and Food Minister Taras Vysotsky said on Wednesday. , in a televised address.

Christi C. Elwood