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Turkey, Russia Agree To De-Mining Operation In Ukrainian Ports To Erect 'Grain Corridor'

Turkey, Russia Agree To De-Mining Operation In Ukrainian Ports To Erect ‘Grain Corridor’

For days the United Nations has been in (so far unsuccessful) talks on cobbling together an agreement on plans to unblock Black Sea grain exports from Ukrainian ports, including controversial discussions with Russia, which has stood accused of ‘weaponizing’ global food supply with its military blockade of key ports. Moscow has in turn charged that Ukraine said ports, making tanker traffic impossible, while also saying the West must ease sanctions if it hopes to get crucial grain exports flowing again.

UN officials have said President Vladimir Putin’s offer to lift the blockade if sanctions are dropped is “complicating” the already “fragile” negotiations. Washington has been watching with skepticism: “The bottom line is that, apart from leveraging overland routes, we need to get the ports back up and running so we can boost food supplies for those most in need,” a State Department spokesperson said in weekend comments.

Image: Pixabay

Russia has reportedly reached an agreement with Turkey to erect a de-mined ‘grain corridor’ which would provide safe passage to Ukrainian grain cargo ships out of the Black Sea port of Odessa via joint military escorts. 

Turkish media source Daily Sabah is reporting the following on Monday:

Russian government plans to allow ships carrying grain supplies to leave the port of Odessa in Ukraine, according to a report, easing a blockade that has triggered fears of widespread shortages and hunger.

The Russian leadership has agreed with Kyiv and Ankara on a scheme to release grain shipments from Odessa, which has been subject to a blockade, the pro-government Izvestia reported, citing government circles.

“In the territorial waters of the neighboring country, Turkish military forces will take over the demining and they will also escort the ships as far as neutral waters,” Monday’s report said.

Russian warships would then escort the vessels carrying grain to the Bosporus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov previously told reporters the following in recent a press conference, according to Yahoo News citing regional sources:

A conversation (between the Russian President Vladimir Putin) and President Erdoğan has resulted in an agreement that our Turkish colleagues will try to help to organize the demining of Ukrainian seaports in order to release ships which were technically taken hostage together with cargo needed in developing countries.

It’s as yet unclear if the Ukrainian side has actually signed onto the reported deal, or whether it was involved in negotiating or possibly had its interests represented by Turkey in any way.

The report continues: “Lavrov said this agreement stipulates that Ukraine will not use the demining process to strengthen its military capability and will not disrupt the Russian navy.”

This agreement which is being reported from the Russian side appears to have taken place outside of UN channels, and it’s uncertain how it will be received in the West, given that recently the UK and some European backers of Ukraine have floated their own plans for a ‘safe corridor’ established by an international naval escort. Russia has of course rejected these offers to Ukraine of Western naval escorts.

Turkey would have to approve any potential final agreed upon international plan, given that it controls passage of foreign ships through the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits based on the Montreux Convention.

The wording of the Kremlin statement announcing the possible Russia-Turkey demining plan is interesting given it accuses Ukraine of holding commercial shipping “hostage”.

Ukraine for its part has charged Russia with stealing and then selling off vital Ukrainian grain while holding the global food supply hostage, and blackmailing world powers for the sake of sanctions relief.

However, one analyst was cited in The NY Times as saying of the hard-hit African continent which remains very heavily dependent on Ukrainian grain exports, “Africans don’t care where they get their food from, and if someone is going to moralize about that, they are mistaken.”

Tyler Durden
Mon, 06/06/2022 – 14:05

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