Because of the Russian blockade of the Black Sea, exports of Ukrainian grain are faltering. Ukraine is to blame for this, says Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. They would cooperate with Kyiv if the ports were demined. But Ukraine is not ready for that.
In the dispute over the blockade of Ukrainian grain in Black Sea ports, Russia has denied any responsibility. During a visit to Turkey, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Ukraine itself for this. Ukraine has so far refused to mine its ports or otherwise allow cargo ships to pass through, Lavrov said after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. "There have never been any obstacles from our side to solve this problem - it's really a small problem, it's small. If the Kiev authorities mature, we will be only too happy to cooperate." The meeting did not bring any concrete results, such as the establishment of a security corridor.
"We are ready to ensure the safety of ships leaving Ukrainian ports," Lavrov said. Referring to Ukraine, he added: "If now - as our Turkish friends tell us - it is ready either to clear mines or to ensure passage through minefields, then we hope that this problem will be solved." Cavusoglu said Turkey supports a UN plan that involves all three countries. However, Kyiv and Moscow still have to agree to this.
Ukraine says it is unwilling to clear the port of Odessa of mines to allow grain exports for fear of Russian attacks. "As soon as mines are cleared from the entrance to the port of Odessa, the Russian fleet will be there," spokesman for the Odessa regional administration Serhiy Brachuk said in a video message on the online service Telegram. Once the mines have been removed, Russia will "want to attack" Odessa, and it "dreams of" parachuting soldiers there. Because of the blockade, Ukraine says it cannot export more than 23 million tons of grain and oilseeds.