Turkey struggles to push Russia, Ukraine into grain deal to avert food crisis -Breaking
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Sergei Yarosh (head of Mlybor) shows some grains in the facility following repeated shellings during the Russian invasion. This was taken in Chernihiv, Ukraine on May 24, 2022. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Pavel Polityuk and Tuvan Gmrukcu
KYIV/ANKARA, (Reuters) – Turkish efforts to alleviate a global food shortage by negotiating safe passage of grain trapped in Black Sea ports encountered resistance from Ukraine. The Kremlin stated that Russia had imposed unreasonable conditions while the Kremlin demanded free shipping.
Russia’s war with Ukraine, which is the fourth and third largest global exporters of grain, has led to increased food prices and threatened food supplies worldwide.
Russia has taken large parts of Ukraine’s coastline in just 15 weeks of war. Its warships have control of the Black and Azov Seas. This blocks Ukraine’s exports of farm products and drives up grain prices.
The West and Ukraine accuse Moscow of weaponizing food supplies. Russia claims that Ukrainian mines were dug at sea, and there are international sanctions targeting Moscow.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign Minister said that talks in Ankara on Wednesday were productive and it was possible to restart Ukrainian grain exports via a sea route.
Lavrov claimed that Ukraine was responsible for demining its ports to ensure safe shipment.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, told reporters that Russian grain volumes cannot be shipped to international markets until sanctions are lifted. “No substantive discussions about this are yet,” he said.
Plans are being made by the United Nations with Moscow and Kyiv to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Turkey may provide naval escorts for safe passage.
Luigi Di Maio (Italian Foreign Minister) stated at a press conference that there was an imminent food crisis in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey claimed that Russia is making unreasonable requests, like checking vessels.
Unofficial from Ukraine also questioned Turkey’s ability to facilitate the passage of Ukrainian grain that has been blocked.
On Wednesday, Serhiy Ivashchenko (director of UGA Ukrainian grain traders’ union) stated that Turkey is not a sufficient force in Black Sea to guarantee cargo’s safety.
According to him, it would take two-to three months to get rid of mines in Ukrainian ports. He also suggested that both the Turkish and Romanian navy should participate.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian leader, said that this week Ukraine discussed with Britain and Turkey the possibility of having a navy from another country to ensure safe passage for Ukraine’s grain exports via the Black Sea.
A month prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Ukraine had exported 6 million tonnes grain. Moscow describes the action as a unique military operation.
Since then, volumes have fallen to around 1,000,000 tonnes. Ukraine used to export its most goods via seaports. Now, it has to move grain via train through its western border and via small Danube river ports.
The Ukrzaliznytsia state railway stated that even with an increase in loading capacity and handling capacities, Danube ports cannot be compensated for the absence of seaports.
Valerii Tatkachov is the deputy director for Ukrzaliznytsia’s commercial division. She said Wednesday that it could export 1.5 million tonnes of grain per month, an increase from the 800,000 tonnes delivered in May.
However, he stated that the grain wagons were accumulating at the border crossings so the cargo could have to wait for the next month.