Lavrov and Cavusoglu did not solve the problem with the export of Ukrainian grain

What options were discussed and what is the position of Kyiv The Foreign Ministers of Russia and Turkey discussed in Ankara options for the export of Ukrainian grain through the corridors in the Black Sea. Sergei Lavrov promised that they would not be used for military operations, but Kyiv is waiting for anti-ship missiles

Sergei Lavrov (left) and Mevlut Cavusoglu

What options for the export of grain were discussed by Russia and Turkey

On Tuesday, June 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Ankara to discuss with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu the issue of exporting Ukrainian grain by sea. Since the beginning of the Russian military special operation, more than 20 million tons of grain intended for export have been stuck on the territory of Ukraine. Previously, it was transported to destination countries by dry cargo ships through the Black Sea, but Ukrainian ports in the Odessa region were mined after the outbreak of hostilities. At the same time, the approach to them is controlled by the Russian fleet.

Ukraine— the fifth largest grain exporter in the world. It supplies wheat, corn and sunflower oil to a number of African countries. The country accounts for up to 50% of the purchases of the UN food program, which distributes humanitarian aid to poor countries, including Yemen and Libya, where food is already in short supply.

Back in late May, Cavusoglu, in an interview with Anadolu agency, announced Turkey's readiness, which is responsible for the passage of ships to and from the Black Sea, to help establish trust between the parties on the issue of grain exports and announced the UN initiative to create an appropriate quadripartite contact group. The minister noted that Ankara gave its consent to this and announced the start of consultations at the technical level. “Ukraine does not want Russian ships to enter Odessa, and Russia does not want other ships along this corridor to deliver weapons to Ukraine. Both sides need certainty and guarantees, — Cavusoglu explained. At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held telephone conversations with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.

A few days later, Anadolu, citing Turkish diplomatic sources, announced the development by the parties of the “road map” on the creation of a shipping corridor in the Black Sea. It was assumed that the corridor would operate under the auspices of the UN and that the grain would be transported along it to a special distribution center, which would be built for this purpose in Istanbul. The agreement was to be signed by representatives of the three countries and the UN. A few days before Lavrov's visit to Ankara, Russian-Turkish consultations at an expert level began in Istanbul, and on the evening of June 7, Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar by phone “discussed in detail the issues of safety of navigation in the Black Sea in conjunction with the solution of the problem export of grain from the territory of Ukraine».

Did you manage to bring the positions closer

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At a press conference following the talks held on June 8, Lavrov and Cavusoglu did not announce an agreement on the creation of a corridor. But the Turkish minister called the plan proposed by the UN “reasonable and feasible”, noting the need for additional consultations between Russia and Ukraine on the issue of ensuring the safety of navigation. Cavusoglu described the meeting itself as “fruitful”. He also spoke in favor of partial lifting of sanctions against Russia if it decides to support the initiative to create a transport corridor, calling such a condition “quite legal”.

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Lavrov, in turn, said that Ukrainian grain “can be freely transported to destinations, there are no obstacles from Russia.” According to him, for this, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky needs to order foreign ships in ports to enter the Black Sea. According to the minister, the Russian Black Sea Navy has been announcing for more than a month about humanitarian corridors from the territorial waters of Ukraine to the Bosphorus Strait, which could be used by all ships to be sent to ports of permanent registry. “Until recently, the Ukrainian authorities, including President Zelensky, publicly denied their willingness to clear these territorial waters in order to begin this process. But if now, as our Turkish friends tell us, the Ukrainian side is ready to ensure the passage— either to clear mines, or to provide passage through minefields, & mdash; Let's hope then that the problem will be solved, — Lavrov said. He added that Russia would be happy to cooperate if the Kyiv authorities were “ripe”.

The Russian minister stressed that Moscow was ready to give Kyiv guarantees that it would not use port clearance for military purposes. “These are the guarantees of the President of Russia, we are ready to issue them in one way or another,” — he explained.

“The key, hidden part of the grain problem is that Ukraine's goal is to use the grain problem to completely unblock ports in order to import at least fuel and lubricants, and as a maximum— weapons with ammunition. Russia will insist on such a regime for the export of grain, in which it will be able to inspect ships and check cargo,»,— Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics Vasily Kashin told RBC.

Therefore, the expert explained, and there is a discussion of at what stage grain carriers will accompany Russian ships, and at what stage— Turkish. Kashin is sure that the refusal to inspect ships will entail direct military risks for Russia. “Russia deliberately strikes at transport infrastructure facilities, such as railway traction substations and in some cases— bridges and plus fuel storage facilities to hinder the supply of fuels and lubricants, ammunition and weapons. If there is easy access by sea, then all these efforts will lose their meaning, — he summed up.

How Kyiv reacted to the talks in Ankara

The head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Dmitry Kuleba, commenting on the results of the talks in Ankara, said that Kyiv welcomed the talks on the export of Ukrainian grain, but any decision on this issue must take into account the security of the country. He noted that the Ukrainian authorities are cooperating with the UN on this issue.

“All other tracks and efforts— please, we welcome them, but on one condition: the final decision must take into account the security interests of Ukraine 100%,— the minister said, explaining that this requires “a sufficient number of weapons capable of protecting Odessa and that part of the Black Sea coast from land.”

Also, according to him, it is necessary to create a mission to patrol the future maritime corridor by ships of the countries who Ukraine can trust. Turkey is one of them, Kuleba specified.

“Lavrov's words are empty. Ukraine has clearly stated its position on seaports: it needs military equipment to protect the coastline and a Navy mission to patrol export routes in the Black Sea. Russia cannot be allowed to use grain corridors to attack southern Ukraine,— wrote the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleg Nikolenko on Twitter.

Earlier, Zelensky said that the supply of anti-ship missiles to Kyiv would be the “best guarantee”; unblocking Ukrainian ports. “Weapons that we can place in the region. We are working on it and we will get anti-ship systems,— conveyed his words to RBC-Ukraine. The Ukrainian president also promised that Russian ships would not be able to enter the unblocked ports.

Denmark can supply the required systems. On May 23, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters that Copenhagen would provide Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a launcher for them. A few days later, a senior Pentagon official said that about 20 Ukrainian military personnel were already being trained in their use— the training takes place outside of Ukraine, the American military participates in it.

Authors Tags Persons

Sergey Lavrov

diplomat, Minister of Foreign Affairs Russia

March 21, 1950

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