Russia has urged Ukraine to remove mines from the area near Odesa to allow safe grain exports, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged that Moscow wouldn’t use the corridors to launch an attack. Both Ukrainian and EU officials cast doubt on the pledge; it was Putin who also insisted earlier this year that he had no plans to invade Ukraine.
Russia and Turkey voiced support Wednesday for a safe corridor in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian grain exports, but Kyiv rejected the proposal, saying it was not credible. The European Union accused Moscow of “weaponizing” food supplies to gain an advantage in the war, Ap reports.
Russia also demanded that Ukraine remove mines from the Black Sea and both Moscow and Ankara said the West should ease sanctions on Moscow to allow the export of Russian grains amid an escalating world food crisis. While food exports are technically exempt from the sanctions, Russia claims that restrictions on its ships and banks make it impossible to deliver its grain to global markets.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion and a blockade of its ports have halted much of that flow, endangering food supplies to many developing countries, especially in Africa. Many of those ports are now also heavily mined.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Ankara on Wednesday for discussions focused on a United Nations proposal to free Odesa and Ukraine’s other Black Sea ports and allow 22 million tons of grain sitting in silos to be shipped out. Ukraine was not invited to the talks.
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