Russia’s Defense Ministry: Grain Coordination Center Launched in Istanbul

In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, sit as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, top left, and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, top right, exchange documents during a signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, July 22, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, sit as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, top left, and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, top right, exchange documents during a signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, July 22, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
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Russia’s Defense Ministry: Grain Coordination Center Launched in Istanbul

In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, sit as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, top left, and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, top right, exchange documents during a signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, July 22, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, sit as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, top left, and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, top right, exchange documents during a signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, July 22, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

The Joint Coordination Center (JCC), established as part of a landmark deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine, has started work in Istanbul, Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday

The Russian delegation to the JCC will arrive in Turkey today and begin work in a four-way format, alongside Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations, the ministry said in a statement posted on social media.

Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal last Friday, brokered by Ankara and the UN, to unblock grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports and ease an international food crisis.

The deal was almost immediately thrown into jeopardy after Russia fired cruise missiles on the port of Odesa, Ukraine's largest, on Saturday morning, just 12 hours after the signing ceremony in Istanbul.

But both Moscow and Kyiv have said they will try to push forward with the agreement - the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the conflict now in its sixth month.

Ukraine and Russia accounted for around a third of global wheat exports before Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

The Russian delegation to the JCC will be headed by rear admiral Eduard Luik, Moscow said.

"The main task of Russian specialists in the JCC will be the prompt resolution of all necessary issues for the initiative to enter the stage of practical implementation," the defense ministry said.

The Kremlin on Monday called for the UN to secure the removal of curbs on Russian fertilizer and grain exports as part of the deal, saying it was still too early to say whether the agreement would be a success.



Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
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Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)

As of Saturday, President Joe Biden was still planning to stay in the 2024 presidential race. But on Sunday afternoon, he shocked many of his senior staff by telling them he was withdrawing just before making the decision public, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Biden began to come to a decision on Saturday night that he should withdraw from the 2024 race. He had spent weeks defiantly insisting he would stay in the race despite pressure from some Democrats to pull out.

At 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, however, Biden told his senior team he had changed his mind and would withdraw, the sources said.

One minute later, at 1:46 p.m., Biden made his bombshell announcement.

The decision came less than a month after Biden had a disastrous debate against Republican Donald Trump that raised questions about the mental acuity of the 81-year-old Democratic president.

Biden came to his decision over the 48 hours preceding the announcement, after digesting large amounts of data and polls that showed his path to victory largely out of reach, two sources said. He agonized over the decision, but when he made up his mind, he moved quickly, a senior White House official said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke multiple times on Sunday ahead of his announcement, a person familiar with their conversations said.

Biden, who has been at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home since testing positive for COVID on Wednesday, shared his decision with his senior team by reading the letter to them that he would soon release publicly on social media.

"He read the letter to us and wanted us to understand his thinking. He said he had wrestled with it over the last 48 hours," the official said.

Shortly after the call, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients called senior White House staff together to inform them of the decision.

"This was really closely held," the official said. "It came as a surprise to most White House folks."

DIVIDED PARTY

After the debate, Biden began losing ground to Trump in battleground states, and Biden's campaign was pursuing a razor-thin path to reelection.

"It became hard with the growing opposition within the party. We have to be united going into November. That was a factor," the senior White House official said, while noting there had still been significant support for Biden across the country.

“I'm still processing it," said Marcus Mason, an at-large member of the Democratic National Convention.

"The president will go down in history as a patriot who put his country and party over his own ambitions," Mason said.

The president, still nursing a cough after his COVID diagnosis, had spent the weekend stewing over Democratic pressure to force him to leave the race, aides said. With him were long-time senior aides Annie Tomasini, Steve Richetti and Mike Donilon and a top aide to first lady Jill Biden, Anthony Bernal.

Biden had been particularly irked at former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Biden advisers believed was orchestrating a pressure campaign to get him to stand down.

Hours before the announcement, the Biden campaign denied reports he was planning to drop out.

"It is false. And I think that it is false to continue to try to gin up this narrative," deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks told MSNBC's "The Weekend” on Sunday morning.

There were plenty of signs Biden had been thinking about pulling out for several days, with sources saying the Democratic incumbent had been doing some soul-searching.