Turkey ‘determined’ to maintain grain deal as ships leave Ukrainian ports

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday his country was determined to press forward with a U.N. and Turkish-brokered grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, days after Moscow announced that it was suspending the agreement.

Turkey will “resolutely continue” its effort “to serve humanity," Turkish NTV network cited the Turkish president as saying, adding that  Russia was "hesitant" towards the deal on grounds that it was not being shown the same "opportunities" as Ukraine. 

Moscow on Saturday suspended its participation in the grain deal that has seen more than 9 million tons of grain exported from Ukraine during the war and has brought down soaring global food prices.

The announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively blocked shipments from Ukraine, in response to what Moscow called a major Ukrainian drone attack on Saturday against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of occupied Crimea. Ukraine has  denied the attack, saying that the Russians mishandled their own weapons.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday worked to end the Russian suspension,  AP cited a U.N. spokesman as saying, and the Turkish defence ministry said it was in talks with Moscow to rescue the agreement. 

“Our effort to deliver this wheat to countries facing the threat of starvation is evident. With the joint mechanism that we established in Istanbul, we contributed to the relief of a global food crisis,” Erdoğan said on Monday.

Reuters reported that ​​ships brought grain from Ukrainian ports on Monday, suggesting Moscow had stopped short of reimposing a blockade that might have caused world hunger, despite suspending its participation in a U.N. programme to safely export grain from the war zone.

Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s largest exporters of grain. Global humanitarian organizations, the European Union, NATO and the United Nations have all pleaded with Russia to reverse its decision, warning that any decline in exports coming from Ukraine could lead to potentially deadly consequences. 

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