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Russia, Turkey discuss how to liberate Ukraine’s grain

Russia, Turkey discuss how to liberate Ukraine's grain - Photo 1.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu shake hands at a joint press conference in Ankara on June 8 – Photo: Reuters

On June 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had a meeting with Turkish officials to negotiate a plan that could allow Ukraine’s grain exports through the Black Sea to global markets in the context of the crisis. the food crisis escalated. This is Foreign Minister Lavrov’s second trip to Turkey in the past three months.

Resolve concerns security

Speaking alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Foreign Minister Lavrov said he hoped the problems related to the transportation of grain from ports in Ukraine could be resolved on the condition that Kiev be removed. mines from the waters around these ports.

Mr. Lavrov said: “To solve the problem, the only thing necessary is for Ukraine to allow ships to leave their ports by clearing mines or designating safe corridors. No more is needed. what else!”.

Currently, countries are trying to find ways to help free up Ukraine’s huge supply of agricultural products, especially wheat. Ukrainian officials say about 20 million tons of grain are trapped inside the country.

Turkey is working with Russia and Ukraine to agree on a plan to restart grain exports from Ukrainian ports. The plan, promoted by the United Nations, helps open a safe shipping corridor to tackle the global food crisis.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the plan was “reasonable” and demanded further talks with Russia and Ukraine to ensure the safety of the ships.

Currently, it is not easy for Ukrainian grain to go from the Black Sea to international users. First, navigation in the Black Sea is impeded by torpedoes laid by Russian and Ukrainian forces. Second, the Russian side is not easy to lift the blockade of the Black Sea for fear that merchant ships going in and out of Ukrainian ports will secretly carry more weapons for Kiev.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stressed that the Russian military will need to inspect commercial ships transporting grain to ensure they are not carrying weapons – a condition opposed by Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Turkey has offered to use the military to help clear mines off the coast of Odessa and escort grain ships, but Kiev has not yet endorsed the plan. Because Ukraine fears that dismantling the defenses could make this vital port vulnerable to Russian attacks.

Therefore, in order for the Black Sea to return to normal and facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain to the world, the agreement between the parties needs to ensure that the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine are addressed. .

Logistics challenge

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict over the past three and a half months has had significant effects on the whole world. The impact of the fighting and the blockade of ports in the Black Sea, as well as Western sanctions on Russian exports, have sent commodity prices far from the conflict zones soaring. .

In poor countries in Asia and Africa, prices of staples such as wheat and cooking oil have skyrocketed, putting additional pressure on those already living a difficult life. According to the Washington Post, up to 20 million people could go hungry in the Horn of Africa alone this year amid food shortages and prolonged drought.

Now, not only by sea, other options are also considered. Typically, through various diplomatic channels, Ukrainian officials are exploring the possibility of transporting grain shipments by train to remote ports on the Baltic Sea as well as neighboring Romania.

However, many logistical issues still exist, such as whether these ports can effectively handle when the pressure on cargo volume increases. Age-old infrastructure from the Cold War era can also be an obstacle.

The Wall Street Journal explains: “Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania and the former Soviet Union countries use Moscow’s gauge standard. Meanwhile, Poland, Romania and most of the rest of Europe use gauge gauge. narrower railways. To transport grain across the borders of those countries, it was necessary to either change the carriages or transfer the goods to new trains.”

In addition, according to Politico, the European Union’s plan to export Ukrainian grain by road and rail will only help transport one-fifth of the food supply. “Only ships in the Black Sea will allow Ukraine to feed the world again” – Politico headline.

Solutions to deal with the “price storm” of the IMF

Recently, countries have introduced a series of measures to limit the increase in domestic food and energy prices by cutting taxes or direct subsidies. However, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), these support measures will put additional pressure on an already strained budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 7, the IMF suggested that policymakers in countries should allow high global commodity prices to “enter” the domestic economy, while protecting vulnerable households from the effects of the pandemic. price increasing.

“That will ultimately be less costly than keeping prices artificially low for everyone regardless of their ability to pay,” the IMF said.

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