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Ukraine is working with partners to establish a corridor for grain shipments but it is early to talk about a deal, agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi told a Turkish newspaper, warning that failure to open up exports from his nation will lead to “catastrophic” global price increases. 

The Ukrainian minister’s remarks come as Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visits Turkey to discuss a proposal on restarting shipments of Ukraine’s agricultural products from the vital Black Sea port of Odesa.

The Kremlin’s invasion has cut off shipments of grain and other farm products from Ukraine, threatening millions of people in its traditional markets with food shortages. Moscow has denied responsibility for the disruption.

“It is too early to talk about any results regarding these efforts,” Solskyi told Turkey’s economy daily Dunya in remarks published on Wednesday, adding that Ukraine remained in contact with its trade partners and the UN on the matter.

He said 20-million tonnes of grains and legumes, and 5-million tonnes of seed oils from the 2021 harvest can’t be exported because of the blockade and that the situation will worsen when new harvest begins in July. 

Ukraine is the leading exporter of sunflower oil as well as a major shipper of grains such as barley, corn and wheat. Since it is not possible to fill the vacuum by another global supplier, the results will reverberate globally, Solskyi said. 

“This domino effect will cause catastrophic price increases, acute famines and starvation in food-insecure countries,” he said. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has offered military help to clear mines off the coast of Odesa and escort grain ships, but Ukraine has yet to endorse the plan, as removing defences could leave the port prone to Russian attack, according to people familiar with the discussions. 

The Netherlands has also expressed willingness to send warships to escort grain supplies stuck in Ukrainian ports. Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra is also paying a visit to Ankara on Wednesday.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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