Over 20 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukrainian ports, threatening famine in several countries. However, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba, Kyiv is getting closer to an agreement with Moscow. "Now everything depends on Russia," he says.
Ukraine sees an agreement with Russia on grain shipments stalled in the wake of the war within reach. "We are ready to export grain to the international market," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Spanish newspaper "El País" before the start of joint talks in Istanbul. "We are two steps away from an agreement with Russia."
Military delegations from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are to discuss with UN officials in Istanbul how safe exports of Ukrainian grain from the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa can be facilitated. Kuleba said the security concerns related to the Russian position had to be taken into account. "We are in the final stages and now everything depends on Russia."
When asked why Russia might agree to an agreement, Kuleba replied that he suspected the leadership in Moscow wanted to show countries in Africa and Asia their willingness to save them from food shortages. However, it is still conceivable that Russia will leave the talks. Russia has accused Ukraine of preventing an agreement.
According to diplomats, escort ships are being discussed to guide the grain ships through the mined waters around the port of Odessa. Turkey is also said to be inspecting the cargo ships with UN support to allay Russian concerns that arms could be smuggled into Ukraine this way. More than 20 million tons of grain are stored in the silos in Odessa. Not only is it missing from the global market, but it is also jeopardizing the coming harvest as Ukraine runs out of storage space.