Turkey tells Ukraine it is important for first grain shipment to take place soon

Kyiv expects the first grain deliveries under a Turkish and U.N.-mediated deal to leave Ukrainian ports this week amid pressure by Turkey.

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Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday told Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov that it was important for the first shipment of grain under a U.N.-brokered deal to take place as soon as possible, his ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said Akar welcomed a statement that Kyiv hopes to begin implementing the deal this week, adding Turkey would continue to do what it has to under the agreement. 

Akar, who discussed the grain export deal with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier, also said work at the Istanbul-based joint coordination centre (JCC) was continuing intensely, his ministry said.

The first grain shipment cannot come soon enough given that the port blockade has trapped tens of millions of tons of grain in the country. The first shipment is believed to be delayed after Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa, the day after the grain deal was signed. The Russian strike prompted the price of wheat to rise sharply on Monday.