United Nations inspectors boarded ships anchored off the coast of Istanbul on Saturday to make inspections as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and joint coordination efforts managed by the United Nations together with Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine. A United Nations inspector on one of the ships, Averi Nissanka, told The Associated Press that inspectors are assigned to ships daily by the Joint Coordination Center, which has delegations representing the maritime elements of Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations.
“There are different countries, different perspectives but these people work together for a same objective”, Nissanka said.
On July 22, Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the United Nations clearing the way for the export of desperately needed grain and fertilizer, ending a wartime standoff that threatened food security around the globe. The deal expires in November after 120 days and can be renewed. Inspectors representing all parties at the Bosporus in Turkey have been searching vessels entering and leaving Ukrainian ports to ensure no weapons or soldiers are on board, a clause of the agreement signed heavily insisted on by Russia.
Under the deal, “all activities in Ukrainian territorial waters will be under authority and responsibility of Ukraine,” and the parties agree not to attack vessels and port facilities involved in the initiative. In August, a ship carrying grain from Ukraine was turned back and eventually docked in Syria, Russia’s ally, after the Lebanese importer refused to accept the shipment, allegedly because of a delay. Last week, a ship carrying thousands of tons of corn and vegetable oil from Ukraine managed to dock in Lebanon. Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil, but Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports had halted shipments.
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