Russia Okays Conditional Ukraine Grain Exports

Demands Black Sea Demining

Reports say Russia has given it approval for Ukraine to resume its grain export. The greenlight is said to have been given following the support of both Russia and Turkey for the creation of a safe maritime corridor in the Black Sea through which the besieged country can take its grain to international markets amid an escalating world food crisis.

Russia demanded however, that the Black Sea be demined, with Turkey insisting that allowing the Ukrainian exports should necessarily be reciprocated with the ease of sanctions by Western nations against Russia.

Foreign Minister of Turkiye, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who hosted his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov in Ankara for discussions, focused on a UN proposal to free Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and allow 22 million tonnes of grain sitting in silos to be shipped out.

Both allies seemed eager to dictate the terms of Ukraine’s exports, strongly affected by Russia’s invasion and control of the Black Sea.

Ukraine, which was not invited to the talks, is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. However, the war with Russia and the latter’s subsequent blockade of its ports have halted much of that flow and endangered supplies of food to many developing countries, including Nigeria.

With many of those ports reportedly heavily mined, Russia has however, urged Ukraine to remove mines from the area near the Black Sea port of Odesa to allow safe grain exports, insisting that Moscow will not not use the demined corridors to launch an attack on the key Ukrainian port of Odesa. But Putin’s word is hard to take given that he also insisted earlier this year that Moscow had no plans of invading Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Lavrov said on Wednesday that Russia is ready to formalise that guarantee for Odesa. He promised also that Russia would not “abuse” its naval advantage if Ukraine’s ports were demined and would “take all necessary steps to ensure that the ships can leave there freely”. He insists however, that Moscow retainsits right to check incoming vessels to be loaded with grain to ensure none carried they weapons into Ukraine.

While reacting to the gesture Ukraine noted that the Russian promise not to use safe shipping corridors to attack Odesa is not credible.

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