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Ukraine proposes Turkey open grain corridor without Russia

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 7, 2023 5:27 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkiye Vasyl Bodnar speaks during an exclusive interview on 32nd Independence Anniversary of Ukraine, in Ankara, Turkey on August 18, 2023. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukraine has submitted an official proposal to Turkey to restore a corridor in the Black Sea for Ukrainian grain exports without Russia's participation, Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar said on Sept. 7.

The idea is "rational" because cargo ships already travel through Romanian, Bulgarian, and Turkish territorial waters of the Black Sea, the ambassador explained.

Since Moscow refused to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July, the Ukrainian navy set up a temporary corridor to protect merchant ships leaving Ukraine's waters.

At least four ships have passed through the corridor since it was announced on Aug. 10.

Bodnar said that Turkey has not yet responded to the request, but expects Ankara and Kyiv to communicate on the issue in the coming days.  

Turkey played an important role in brokering the original deal in July 2022.

Since Russia withdrew from the deal, Turkey has continued to position itself as a mediator between the two countries.  

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Sept. 4 for talks on restoring the initiative.

While Erdogan told the press that he hopes a solution will be reached soon, and that a new package of proposals from the UN has led to "significant progress," Putin said Russia won't resume the deal without the West decreasing sanctions.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the demand "blackmail," and Bodnar agreed that lifting sanctions would be "absolutely the wrong path."

Since July 2023, the Russian military started a campaign of strikes on Ukrainian port infrastructure and declared that all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports would be considered military targets.

Ukraine wants to use new Black Sea corridor to export grain
After a successful evacuation of a vessel along a new corridor on the western Black Sea coast, Ukraine is hoping to use the corridor to export grain, Denys Marchuk, deputy head of the Agrarian Council, said on national television, Reuters reported on Aug. 21.
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