The export of grain from Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, through the Black Sea has stopped since the Russian invasion. As a result, prices are rising and hunger lurks, especially in the Middle East and Africa. For months, negotiations were fruitless about the free passage of large bulk carriers to the banned Ukrainian ports in Russia, the main way to get the accumulated grain out of the country.
The Netherlands has offered Turkey, which is mediating the matter, to help remove naval mines from shipping lanes. After that, Russia and Ukraine will have to agree on the so-called sea corridor, Ollongren asserts. Insiders say that neighboring NATO member states such as Romania and Bulgaria are also in principle more qualified to supply mine seekers.
Ukraine laid naval mines to protect ports like Odessa from a Russian attack from the Black Sea, where Russia was sovereign and control. Demining is conceivable only if the security of the Ukrainian coast is otherwise guaranteed. Such a security guarantee can be provided by third countries such as Turkey.
The chance of a breakthrough also increased as Russia no longer seemed to have a free hand in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. The Russians evacuated a strategically located island there on Wednesday.
Ollongren believes that the Russian withdrawal from Snake Island could bring the passage closer. “But on the other hand: Ukraine was de facto closed from the Black Sea by the Russian fleet and this has not yet been completely resolved.”
Emphasize once again that time is of the essence. “The harvest is coming, the silos must be emptied. It must happen now.”
“We know that both Ukraine and Russia say: ‘It’s possible,'” Olungren said after a conversation between the Netherlands and Turkey at the NATO summit. But you really need the aggressor Russia for that, and Ukraine should trust it as well.”
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