More grain ships leave Ukrainian ports despite Russian suspension

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Three departing ships left Ukrainian ports by midday on Tuesday under the Black Sea grain export deal, the United Nations-led coordination center said, on the second day of crossings after Russia suspended its participation in the initiative.

The statement said the movement of the ships was agreed by the Ukrainian, Turkish and UN delegations at the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Center (JCC) and the Russian delegation was informed.

Amir Abdulla, UN coordinator for the Black Sea Grains Initiative, “continues his discussions with the three member states in an effort to resume full participation in the JCC,” the statement said.

The export deal was agreed by Russia and Ukraine and brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July to alleviate a world hunger crisis caused in part by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and earlier blockade of its ports.

Twelve ships departed Ukrainian ports on Monday, the biggest day of exports since the program began, while two arrived.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the program was a response to a drone strike on Moscow’s Crimean fleet on Saturday, which he blamed on Ukraine. Moscow said on Monday that it was “unacceptable” for transport to pass through the corridor.

Kiev has not claimed responsibility for the attack and denies using the grain program’s security corridor for military purposes. The UN said no grain ships were using the Black Sea route on Saturday.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told Ukraine’s defense and infrastructure ministers that keeping the initiative going is important and that as a humanitarian initiative it must be kept separate from the conflict in Ukraine, Akar’s ministry said on Tuesday. fair.

UN and Turkish teams continued their inspections on Tuesday of departing ships anchored in Istanbul, the JCC statement said, having cleared 46 ships to sail on Monday.

(By Daren Butler and Yesim Dikmen)

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