Russia, Turkey Signal Progress on Plans to Export Ukrainian Grain

The two countries want to establish safe corridors, but Ukraine's ports still need to be de-mined

Russia and Turkey held talks Wednesday to restart the export of Ukrainian grain and signaled progress toward the goal, although Ukraine will need to agree to any plans.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Istanbul and expressed support for a UN plan to open safe corridors for cargo ships to leave Ukraine’s ports.

Cavusoglu said the UN plan was “reasonable” but said it requires cooperation between Moscow and Kyiv. To facilitate exports, Ukraine would need to de-mine its port of Odesa, but Ukrainian officials don’t trust that Russia wouldn’t use the opportunity to attack the port. Ukraine has said it needs “effective security guarantees” before it can allow ships to leave.

Lavrov said Russia had repeatedly guaranteed it would allow the safe passage of ships to allow transit to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, but that it is up to Ukraine to de-mine the ports.

“To solve the problem, the only thing needed is for the Ukrainians to let vessels out of their ports, either by de-mining them or by marking out safe corridors, nothing more is required,” Lavrov said after talks with Cavusoglu.

Moscow also repeated a call on Wednesday for the West to ease sanctions on Russia to allow the export of Russian grain. “President Putin said that in order for Russian grain volumes to be delivered to international markets, direct and indirect sanctions against Russia must be lifted,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Sanctions imposed on Russian shipping by the US and its allies technically have exemptions for grain shipments, but the sanctions discourage companies and ports from doing business with Russian ships altogether.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.