ANKARA — A Russian delegation stationed in Turkey since July 2022 for implementation of the Black Sea grain deal has left the country, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Thursday, spelling the de facto end of the sole mechanism that brought Ukrainian and Russian officials to work together on a regular basis.
Turkey’s announcement came after Russia’s withdrawal from the critical deal earlier this week amid international warnings of a looming global food crisis and potential hunger in the world's impoverished communities. The delegation, based in Istanbul since July 2022, included Russian inspectors and military officials whose responsibilities included inspecting Ukrainian ships passing through the Turkish straits to and from Ukraine. The Turkish Defense Ministry didn't clarify when the delegation would return, if at all.
The Defense Ministry said Turkey would keep the joint center operational, adding that there was still hope for Russia's return to the deal. The center was set up to facilitate the implementation of the mechanism. The deal, which was struck in July 2022, expired on Monday after Russia refused to extend it. Global grain prices spiked by nearly 5% since Moscow's announcement of its withdrawal.
The Black Sea grain mechanism allowed Ukrainian foodstuff, most importantly its grain, to reach world markets. According to the UN World Food Program (WFP), more than 35 countries across the world have imported grain from Ukraine — dubbed the world's breadbasket.