Real-time updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

According to Andriy Yermak, the talks between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN, held on Wednesday in Istanbul, led to the fact that the parties agreed to establish a “Joint Coordination Center under the auspices of the UN” to ensure the security of Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea. , 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 control and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea,” Yermak said on Wednesday.

Trucks loaded with grain stand in line near Izmail, Odessa region, Ukraine, on June 14.
Trucks loaded with grain stand in line near Izmail, Odessa region, Ukraine, on June 14. (Alexander Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Some context: According to Ukrainian officials, more than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine due to the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost 30% of world trade, according to the US State Department, and Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest exporter of corn and the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat. The UN World Food Programme, which helps fight global food insecurity, buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine every year and warns of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not reopened.

About 80% of Ukrainian grain exports were shipped from the country’s Black Sea ports prior to the Russian invasion.

With these routes blocked, Ukraine hopes to speed up grain export through the newly opened routes of the Danube River, which became possible after Ukrainian troops recaptured Serpent’s Island in June.

A line of barges waiting to be shipped up the Danube River and loaded with grain at one of Ukraine’s river ports will take weeks to clear, Taras Vysotsky, Deputy Minister of Agricultural Policy and Food, said in a televised address Wednesday.