The Joint Coordination Center, which will oversee the shipments of Ukrainian grain via the country's Black Sea ports, has opened in Istanbul.
According to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the center, the creation of which was agreed upon as a part of a grain deal between Ukraine and Russian under the auspices of the UN and Turkey, "has a special meaning for the whole world and will work for purely humanitarian purposes."
The minister added that the deal will be valid for 120 days and will continue further "unless the parties request termination."
Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports caused fears of a global food crisis. According to international reports, 22-25 million tons of Ukrainian grain have been blocked by Russia from being shipped abroad, increasing the risk of famine, particularly in Africa and Asia.
On July 22, an UN-backed deal, signed in Istanbul, envisioned safe passage of Ukrainian grain from three southwestern ports in Odesa Oblast, including the one in Odesa, paving the way for unblocking cruel grain export.
However, on July 23, the day after Moscow signed the agreement, Russian forces attacked the Black Sea trade port in Odesa with Kalibr cruise missiles.
President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the strike, saying that "no matter what Russia promises, it will find ways not to implement it." Later he added that Turkey and the UN should monitor Russia's compliance with the deal.
Turkish Defense Minister said that Russia, Ukraine, the UN, and Turkey would each send five representatives to the Coordination Center, including a mixture of civilian and military representatives.
Akar underlined that the officials working at the center "are aware that the eyes of the world are on them," outlining Turkey's hope that the center "will make maximum contributions to humanitarian needs and peace through collective and successful work."