Ukraine to remove mines blocking grain ships – NYT
Ukraine has agreed to facilitate the passage of wheat exports, through the Black Sea, to global markets, the New York Times, reported on Friday, citing three government sources in Kiev.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has added that Kiev has agreed to remove “only a few” of the mines which have been blocking naval traffic since Russia launched its military offensive in February.
Under the proposals, Ukraine's Navy and Coast Guard would steer grain ships to international waters, the report explained.
Wheat shipments from Ukraine, a major exporter, were disrupted after Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring country in late February. Both sides blame each other for hampering the exports.
According to the report, foreign crews would take the ship to Istanbul, Turkey, where they would continue on to other destinations. A control center would be set up in Istanbul to oversee operations, while Turkish officials would check the ships to assure Moscow that they aren’t used to deliver weapons to Ukraine.
Two senior European officials were quoted as saying they were optimistic that a deal would be struck at the UN-sponsored talks in Istanbul on Friday.
Western politicians accused Russia of deliberately blocking grain exports from Ukraine by blockading Black Sea ports. Moscow says the deliveries are not possible due to Ukrainian naval mines. The Russian Navy has offered to safely escort all grain ships.