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Turkish Foreign Minister Deems Grain Corridor in Ukraine ‘Reasonable’

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) attend a news conference | Image by Getty Images

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that a plan by the United Nations to help end a global food crisis by jumpstarting Ukrainian grain exports along a safe corridor was “reasonable.” However, he said the matter requires additional talks between Moscow and Kyiv to guarantee ships are free from danger.

At a press conference in Ankara with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Cavusoglu said their meeting was productive, including discussions to return to negotiations for a potential ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine.

Lavrov claimed Russia needed to take no action because it was Ukraine’s responsibility to solve shipment problems by demining the country’s Black Sea ports.

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.”

Ukrainian Grain Union head Serhiy Ivashchenko disregarded Turkey’s attempt to bargain a deal with Russia to allow Ukrainian grain exports to resume, saying Ankara lacks the authority to ensure the measure.

“Turkey doesn’t have enough power in the Black Sea to guarantee the security of cargo and Ukrainian ports,” he said.

Russia says the Ukrainian ports must permit safe shipping, and Russia demands the right to inspect incoming ships to guarantee they do not carry weapons into Ukraine.

Ivashchenko said Ukraine would favor NATO ships serving as guarantors in the Black Sea. He also stated it was Russia who had put mines in the area, and it would take several months to clear them.

Ukraine has said it required adequate safety assurances before it could begin shipments, saying it is concerned that the Kremlin could exploit the passageway to attack Odesa.

The Turkish foreign minister suggested dropping sanctions against Russia to ensure the grain corridor plan can be implemented, saying it is “quite legitimate.”

“If the whole world is in need of the products to be exported by Ukraine and the Russian Federation, then a method needs to be established,” Cavusoglu said.

He added that he expected “technical preparations” could be made “as soon as possible.”

Western countries have blamed Russia for risking a global famine by closing Ukraine’s Black Sea ports since Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters.

The Kremlin rejects any blame for the crisis, saying sanctions from the West are the root of the problem.

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