ANKARA, June 4. /TASS/. Deliveries of Ukrainian grain to via the Black Sea and through the area of the strait may start in the near future, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Saturday in an interview with Anadolu news agency.
This can be facilitated by the signing of a relevant memorandum during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Ankara, which is scheduled for June 8, he added.
"The Turkish side hopes that Lavrov's visit will pave the way - by signing a protocol and a memorandum. A decision will be made, and deliveries will begin as soon as possible. I can tell you this: if we, for example, reach an agreement tomorrow, sea transportation will begin at least 3-5 weeks later. First, you need to clear the water area of mines and create a corridor. Therefore, we tell our colleagues: we need to start as soon as possible," Kalin said.
The representative of the Turkish President called the transportation of Ukrainian grain by sea "the most reasonable and feasible variant for [Ankara's] to contribute to eliminating the food crisis."
Kalin also said that negotiations on the creation of a so-called grain center in Istanbul, which will control the transportation of Ukrainian grain, continue in a generally positive manner.
"The Russian side did not react negatively to these initiatives. The Ukrainian side also considers the proposal to be in the interests of the country," the representative of the Turkish President said. According to him, concrete steps to implement this initiative are expected in the coming days.
Turkish media reported this week that the creation of a "grain center" in Istanbul is under consideration while representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the UN are working on a road map to unblock the export of Ukrainian grain and to ship it through the Black Sea and the straits. The implementation of these plans, as stated, will allow exporting about 20 million tonnes of grain to world markets. Commenting on these reports, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Ankara that Turkey is open to cooperation with all countries on the issue of creating a security corridor for the export of Ukrainian grain to world markets by sea.
Disruptions with grain supplies
The situation in Ukraine and the large-scale sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and the EU have led to disruptions in grain supplies, which increases the risk of a food crisis in several countries around the world. Since the beginning of the year, prices for wheat and corn have risen significantly. On May 21, a meeting of the UN Security Council noted that global stocks of wheat are enough only for ten weeks and the situation is worse than in the crisis of 2007-2008.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that the food crisis in the world happened long before the start of a special military operation in Ukraine. It was caused in particular by the coronavirus pandemic and the miscalculations of Western countries. Lavrov added that the current situation has aggravated the problem, and Western sanctions have become one of the key reasons for the disruption of food supplies, which escalated the crisis.