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Turkey Negotiates Grain Export Corridor with Ukraine, Russia

The Bosphorus strait could be a neutral grain export corridor from Ukraine

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The Bosphorus strait unites the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara . falco | PIXABAY
The Bosphorus strait unites the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara . falco | PIXABAY

Turkey is in negotiations with Russia and Ukraine to open a corridor via the Bosphorus for grain exports from Ukraine, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on May 26.

The Bosphorus strait unites the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and separates parts of Asian Turkey from European Turkey.

"With a corridor to be opened from Turkey, there was a demand for this grain to reach their targeted markets. Negotiations are still ongoing," an official told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the talks were confidential.

Grain blockade threatens global food supply

On May 25, reports said newly declassified U.S. intelligence showing a Russian naval blockade had halted maritime trade at Ukrainian ports, in what world leaders called a 'deliberate attack' on the global food supply chain that has raised fears of political instability and shortages unless grain and other essential agricultural products are allowed to flow freely from Ukraine.

Russia’s navy now effectively controls all traffic in the northern third of the Black Sea, making it unsafe for commercial shipping, according to a U.S. government document obtained by The Washington Post.

Russia offers safe corridors -- with conditions

Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying.

The international community should help create a "safe passage" to enable the millions of tons of grain stuck in Ukraine to leave the country, said Yuliia Svyrydenko, First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine. She told the BBC that some sort of "corridor" was needed.

Svyrydenko, who is also Ukraine's Minister of the Economy, urged the international community to help lift the blockade of the country's sea ports, saying this could be a solution allowing Ukraine to export the grain currently stuck in its silos and unable to be shipped.

Turkey seen as "neutral"

According to the Reuters report, despite being a NATO member, Turkey was seen as more "neutral" by Russia than other Western members of the alliance.

Turkey has two frigates, two submarines and a half-dozen patrol and fast-attack ships in the Black Sea and much more could be quickly summoned for such a mission, said Yoruk Isik, Istanbul-based head of the Bosphorus Observer consultancy.

It could hypothetically patrol the food corridor routes and also sweep for mines, which Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of having planted.

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