Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Europe

Putin and Zelenskyy edge closer to Black Sea shipping truce

Press play to listen to this article

The leaders of Russia and Ukraine held separate talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Monday on plans to reopen safe routes for shipping grain via the Black Sea.

Erdoğan’s phone calls with Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy will boost hopes that he is making progress toward brokering an agreement that would allow shipments of grain from Ukrainian ports to resume.

“President Erdogan noted that it was time for the United Nations to take action for the plan regarding the formation of secure corridors via the Black Sea for the grain export,” a Turkish readout from his call with Russia’s president says.

Russia has been blockading Ukraine’s ports since Putin decided to invade in late February. Ukraine, which was once known as the breadbasket of Europe, is a major agricultural exporter and much of its grain is traditionally sent to import-dependent countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. Now, millions of tons of Ukrainian grain are stuck in storage facilities.

The U.N. and Turkey are trying to mediate discussions to restart Ukraine’s crucial grain exports. But tensions are running high over allegations of stolen supplies, which Moscow denies: Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry estimates Russian forces have grabbed at least 400,000 tons of grain from the country since the February invasion.

In its readout of the conversation, the Kremlin said the call took place “on the eve of the upcoming Russian-Turkish summit meeting in the near future,” indicating that Putin is ready for face-to-face talks with Erdoğan. The statement added that “an exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine continued, including in the context of coordinating efforts to ensure the safety of navigation in the Black Sea and grain exports to world markets.”

Erdoğan also spoke with Zelenskyy about the safe corridors at sea, saying that Turkey “continues to work on the UN plan aimed at making sure Ukraine’s grains reach world markets.”

Zelenskyy tweeted after the conversation that the two leaders “discussed the importance of unblocking [Ukrainian] ports and resuming grain exports.” He added that the two sides should “prevent Russia from taking our grain from [the temporarily occupied territories].”

This hints at Kyiv’s worries about Moscow establishing new trade routes out of occupied Ukrainian ports like Berdyansk and exporting the grain Ukraine says was stolen to places like Turkey.

However, the fact that both Putin and Zelenskyy engaged in public with the Turkish leader on this issue on the same day is likely to raise hopes that progress toward an agreement is possible.

Eddy Wax contributed reporting.

This article is part of POLITICO Pro

The one-stop-shop solution for policy professionals fusing the depth of POLITICO journalism with the power of technology


Exclusive, breaking scoops and insights


Customized policy intelligence platform


A high-level public affairs network

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

Foreign Policy

A group of Western allies including many EU countries and the U.K. pledged more funding to help boost Ukraine’s defense capabilities Thursday, reaching €1.5...

Europe

The Estonian government on Thursday announced that it will ban Russians with Estonian-issued Schengen visas from entering the country. “We see that the number...

Europe

Press play to listen to this article ROME — Italy’s right-wing parties are poised to abandon anti-EU politics, according to a leaked blueprint for...

Europe

In a major blow to China’s diplomatic efforts in Europe, Estonia and Latvia on Thursday quit China’s exclusive club for engaging with Central and...

Europe

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Wednesday that the blasts which rocked a Russian air base in annexed Crimea destroyed nine Russian aircraft. “In...

Europe

Soaring fuel prices mean Ryanair will no longer offer dirt-cheap flights, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said Thursday. “There’s no doubt that at the...

Europe

LONDON — British business groups are today warning the U.K.’s trade chief to pump the brakes on trade talks with India or risk leaving...

Europe

Paul Taylor, a contributing editor at POLITICO, writes the “Europe At Large” column.  PARIS — Amnesty International, the global human rights group, is no...