Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said the United Nations has an objective and good plan regarding the export of stranded grain in Ukraine amid soaring food prices worldwide.
Çavuşoğlu said the plan meets both Russia's export needs and Ukraine's. “If the plan works, Ukraine will be able to export its grain internationally,” he said. The minister spoke to Turkish broadcaster NTV about the objectives of the NATO summit.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu said safe lines for the export of grain could not be established without clearing mines from the Black Sea areas.
“Food prices in the world are very high right now. We want this problem to be resolved to the benefit of both Ukraine and Russia,” he said.
The Black Sea, where now hundreds of mines are laid along the sea, is crucial for the shipment of grain, oil and oil products. Its waters are shared by Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Turkey, as well as Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces have seized since its invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.
Turkey has been playing a mediator role to enable the stranded grain to the world markets while also saying that it is investigating allegations that Russia has stolen Ukrainian grain.
Ankara said it would not allow any such grain to be brought to the country. Ukraine's Turkey Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar had earlier said Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia had stolen from Ukraine, adding he had sought Turkey's help to identify and capture individuals responsible for the alleged shipments.
Çavuşoğlu appeared to deny Ukraine’s claims of stolen grain shipments arriving in Turkey, saying Ankara had not yet seen any such cases and it had notified Kyiv of every investigation’s outcome.
Most recently, on Sunday a Russian cargo ship carrying grain from an occupied Ukrainian port – Berdyansk – was detained by Turkish customs authorities as confirmed by a senior Turkish official on Monday.
Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday the Zhibek Zholy was detained by Turkish customs authorities. Ukraine had previously asked Ankara to detain it, according to an official and documents viewed by Reuters.
"Upon request, the ship named Zhibek Zholy was halted off Karasu (port)," a senior official said. "The allegations are being investigated thoroughly. It is not written on the grain who it belongs to."
He said Turkey was in contact with Russia, the United Nations and third parties regarding the issue.
On Sunday, Reuters reporters saw the ship anchored about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from the shore and outside of Karasu port in northwest Turkey's Sakarya province. At the time there were no obvious signs of movement aboard or by other vessels nearby.
Earlier this month, Russia's defense minister said the Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol, controlled by Russian forces, were ready to resume grain shipments.