Russia, Ukraine Delegations Start Talks In Istanbul On Grain Blockade

In a bid to break a months-long blockade of grain deliveries across the Black Sea, Russian and Ukrainian delegations on Wednesday met with United Nations and Turkish officials.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the work on the “grain issue” is in progress and being conducted via military officials.
“The work is underway. It is being conducted via military officials. The information will be provided as deemed necessary,” Peskov said, Sputnik News Agency reported.

According to Russian media, negotiations among Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN were planned in Istanbul for Wednesday.

The meeting in Istanbul marks the Russian and Ukrainian governments’ first face-to-face talks since another meeting in the Turkish metropolis in late March.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said that Russia is open to negotiations with the West on ways to resolve several issues including the blockade of Ukrainian grain at Black Sea ports.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and its impact on food security and energy dominated the closed-door G20 gathering on the Indonesian island of Bali. The G20 meeting ended with no joint statement and no announcements of any agreements being reached.

The forum was the first face-to-face meeting between Russia and its fiercest critics from the West including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Ukraine is regarded as the “breadbasket of Europe” supplying 10 per cent of the world’s wheat, 12-17 per cent of the world’s maize and half of the world’s sunflower oil. Twenty-five million tonnes of corn and wheat – the entire annual consumption of all the least developed countries – can’t be exported and is currently at risk of rotting in Ukrainian silos.

The West accuses that Russia’s actions have driven up prices in countries like the UK and the ongoing blockade has placed 47 million people around the world on the brink of humanitarian disaster.

In addition to preventing grain from leaving Ukraine via the Black Sea – the route by which 96 per cent of Ukraine’s grain has historically been exported, Russian attacks are disrupting rail exports.

According to Western countries, not only is Russia preventing Ukraine from exporting its grain, but there is also increasing evidence that Russia is stealing grain from Ukraine, smuggling it over the border to sell and boost Putin’s war coffers.

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, security experts say one of Moscow’s earliest strategic aims quickly became apparent as its armoured columns advanced along the coast in an effort to seize Ukraine’s coastline.

The seizure of ports would strangle Ukraine economically at a time when it most needs the funds to fend off Russia. After more than four months of the conflict, two of Ukraine’s five main commercial ports have been taken and both are in the northeast of the Black Sea. (ANI)

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