Ankara, Jul 13 (EFE).- Negotiations on how to lift the Black Sea blockade and release millions of tons of grain trapped in war-ravaged Ukraine will resume in Turkey Wednesday.
Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish military officials as well as United Nations observers are due to meet in Istanbul to broach the issue, which is crucial for developing nations reliant on food exports from Ukraine, the so-called breadbasket of Europe, the Russian foreign ministry and the Turkish government confirmed.
Turkey, which controls the Bosphorus Strait connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, is mediating the talks.
On Monday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the piles of grain trapped in Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion. He also called on the UN to help establish maritime corridors to guide the food out of the nation.
Hours later, Erdogan spoke with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the same topic, Ukrinform, a Ukrainian news portal, reported.
Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar on Tuesday said he was confident that progress would be made in the Istanbul talks.
The question of who will monitor and control the ships traveling to Ukraine to pick up the grain remains a considerable hurdle in the negotiations, observers say.
Moscow argues that it must search the vessels to ensure they are not used to ship weapons into Ukraine, an approach Kyiv rejects.
Ukrainian officials have requested security guarantees from Russia in order to clear mines lining Ukraine Black Sea ports, all of which are blockaded or occupied by Russia’s invading forces, rendering them useless to Ukraine.
The blockade threatens a looming food crisis in many developing nations located in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The growing scarcity of these products on the global market is coupled with the dearth of Russian fertilizer following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The Economic Community of West African States on Tuesday warned that a lack of access to Russian fertilizers could reduce the region’s cereal harvest by 20%.EFE