Wednesday, Turkey’s foreign minister said that a UN plan to ease a global food crisis by resuming Ukrainian grain exports along a sea corridor was “reasonable” but that more talks with Moscow and Kyiv were needed to make sure the safety of the ships.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and said that their meeting in Ankara was productive. He also said that Turkey’s recent contacts and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s recent statements showed that there may be a way to get back to talking.
But Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said that Russia’s ideas, like checking ships, were not realistic. go to site
Lavrov said it was up to Ukraine to fix the problem with grain shipments by removing mines from its Black Sea ports. He said Russia didn’t need to do anything because it had already made the necessary promises. go to site
After the meeting with Cavusoglu, he said, “We state daily that we’re ready to guarantee the safety of vessels leaving Ukrainian ports and heading for (Turkish waters), we’re ready to do that in cooperation with our Turkish colleagues,”
Lavrov said that Moscow won’t take advantage of the situation if Kyiv lets grain shipments leave safely through the Black Sea. However, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said that Lavrov’s words were “empty words”
Ukraine has said that it needs “effective security guarantees” before it can start shipping. It is worried that Moscow could use the potential corridor to move on its southern port of Odesa.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, grain exports from Kyiv to the Black Sea stopped. This made a global food crisis more likely. The UN asked both sides, as well as NATO member and neighbor on the sea, Turkey, to agree on a corridor.
Moscow blames Western sanctions for the global food crisis, which it says is not its fault.
Any deal could include a Turkish naval escort for tankers leaving Odesa and other Ukrainian ports, which are currently blocked by Russia’s navy, and heading to Turkey’s straits and global markets. go to site
Cavusoglu said that he thought the world should work together to make sure that Ukraine’s farm exports could get to their destinations safely. He also said that Turkey thought that Russia’s requests to lift restrictions on its farm exports were “very legitimate”
“Various ideas have been put out for the export of Ukrainian grains to the market and most recently is the U.N. plan (including) a mechanism that can be created between the U.N., Ukraine, Russia and Turkey,” Cavusoglu said.
“We see it as reasonable,” he said. “Of course both Ukraine and Russia must accept it.”
Lavrov said that Ukraine’s “categorically refused” to fix the mined ports was the main problem.
Turkey has good relationships with both Kiev and Moscow and has said in the past that it is willing to take part in a “observation mechanism” based in Istanbul if a deal is made.
Turkey has the second largest army in NATO and a strong navy, but the head of the Ukrainian grain traders union said on Wednesday that Ankara is not strong enough to be a guarantor.