Turkey says the UN plan for Ukraine’s grain exports is reasonable, and Kiev is cautious

  • Cavusoglu says more talks are needed on the grain corridor
  • Lavrov says it is Ukraine’s responsibility to remove mines from its ports
  • Global food crisis threatens to halt Ukraine’s grain exports

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday a United Nations plan to ease the global food crisis by resuming Ukrainian grain exports along a sea lane was “reasonable” and required more talks with Moscow and Kiev to ensure ships could arrive. safety.

Speaking alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu said their meeting in Ankara was fruitful, adding that Turkey’s latest contacts and recent statements by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed that there might be a basis for a return to talks.

But Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey accused Russia of making unrealistic proposals, such as examining ships. Read more

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Lavrov said it was Ukraine’s responsibility to solve the problem of grain shipments by clearing mines from its Black Sea ports and that Russia needed to take no action because it had already made the necessary commitments. Read more

“We announce daily that we are ready to guarantee the safety of ships leaving Ukrainian ports and heading to (Turkish waters), and we are ready to do this in cooperation with our Turkish colleagues,” he said after talks with Cavusoglu.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, however, dismissed Lavrov’s assurances that Moscow would not take the situation to its advantage if Kyiv allowed grain shipments to exit safely through the Black Sea, calling Lavrov’s assertions “empty words.”

Ukraine has said it needs “effective security guarantees” before shipments can begin, and has expressed concerns that Moscow may use the potential passage to move into the southern port of Odessa.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 halted grain exports in Kyiv’s Black Sea, threatening a global food crisis. The United Nations has appealed to the two sides, as well as neighboring maritime and NATO member Turkey, to agree on a passage.

Moscow denies responsibility for the global food crisis and blames Western sanctions.

Any deal could include Turkish naval escorts for tankers leaving Odessa and other Ukrainian ports – currently besieged by the Russian navy – and onward to Turkey’s straits and global markets. Read more

Cavusoglu said he believed the world should work together to open a safe passage for Ukrainian agricultural exports and that Turkey considered Russian demands to lift restrictions on its agricultural exports “very legitimate”.

“Various ideas have been put forward to export Ukrainian grain to the market, the latest of which is the UN plan (including) a mechanism that can be established between the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey,” Cavusoglu said.

“We consider that reasonable,” he added. “Of course, both Ukraine and Russia must accept that.”

The main problem, Lavrov said, was that Ukraine “categorically refused” to solve the problem of the mined ports.

Turkey, which has good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow, has previously said it is ready to play a role within the Istanbul-based “monitoring mechanism” if an agreement is reached.

Turkey has the second largest army in NATO and has a large navy, but the head of the Ukrainian Grain Traders Union said on Wednesday that Ankara was not strong enough to act as a guarantor. Read more

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Additional reporting by Izgi Erkoyon, Natalia Zenets and Pavel Politiuk.

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