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High-level talks on global food crisis in ‘final phase’ in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey


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Talks on Ukraine’s grain exports entered the “final phase” on Wednesday as top officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations met in Istanbul to address the global food crisis.

“We are two steps away from an agreement with Russia,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with the Spanish publication El País. “We are in the final phase and now everything depends on Russia.”

International officials have sounded the alarm that the blockade on Black Sea exports will have a monumental impact on food supplies around the world, particularly in areas already vulnerable to food shortages, such as the Middle East nations. East and Africa.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 7, 2022.
(Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

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The Ukrainians have directly blamed Russia for not only filling the Black Sea with an estimated 400 explosive mines, but also preventing merchant ships from passing safely.

Russia, in turn, accused Ukraine of laying mines and asked them to demilitarize so that Moscow would allow the ships through, a suggestion Kyiv flatly rejected amid Russia’s deadly invasion.

“If they really want to, grain exports will start soon,” Kuleba said in an interview translated by Pravda.

The war, which began in February, has sent shockwaves around the world as prices for grain, cooking oil, fertilizer and fuel have soared.

Turkey, a NATO ally with diplomatic ties to Russia, has been facilitating talks between Kyiv, Moscow and the UN ever since.

Officials are keeping their mouths shut on the details of the talks, but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Tuesday: “We are working hard, but there is still a way to go.”

Details of the negotiations appear to center on securing a truce from Russia to allow Ukrainian ships to guide merchant ships through mine-ridden waters.

A Russian Navy ship of the Black Sea Fleet patrols an area of ​​the Mariupol seaport in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, in eastern Ukraine, Monday, May 30, 2022.

A Russian Navy ship of the Black Sea Fleet patrols an area of ​​the Mariupol seaport in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, in eastern Ukraine, Monday, May 30, 2022.
(AP Photo)

TURKEY’S ERDOGAN TELLS BIDEN HE’S WORKING TO ENSURE A ‘BALANCED’ GRAIN EXPORT DEAL WITH RUSSIA

Turkey, which controls access to key straits connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, will also inspect all ships with UN support to allay Russian concerns about shipping lanes being used to ‘smuggle’ weapons. , reported Reuters.

But Kuleba warned on Wednesday that Russia could still drag out the talks in a bid to gain relief from sanctions imposed by Western nations.

“If they use this to continue playing their ‘Hunger Games,’ they will continue to stress the importance of negotiations,” Kuleba said.

A tractor at work in the Ukraine, which, together with Russia, made up 30% of world grain exports before the war.

A tractor at work in the Ukraine, which, together with Russia, made up 30% of world grain exports before the war.
(UN World Food Program)

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Ukraine said on Tuesday it could start some grain exports via the Danube River, which flows into the Black Sea and runs through central and southeastern Europe, Reuters first reported.

The latest development has reportedly been made possible by Russia’s withdrawal from the infamous Snake Island earlier this month.



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