ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Turkey is negotiating with Russia to open a corridor via the Bosphorus Strait that would allow grain to be exported from Ukraine, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on May 26.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and has blockaded Ukrainian ports, preventing exports of wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other agricultural products. As a result, grain prices have soared to record highs and global food insecurity has increased dramatically.
Reuters estimates that 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in Ukrainian port terminals.
“Turkey is negotiating with both Russia and Ukraine for the export of grains from Ukraine,” the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the talks were confidential.
“With a corridor to be opened from Turkey, there was a demand for this grain to reach their targeted markets. Negotiations are still ongoing,” the person added.
Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.
Turkey, a NATO member, has condemned the invasion but has maintained good relations with Ukraine and Russia throughout the conflict.
Calls for Russia to allow grain exports from Ukraine have been growing in recent days, particularly from the NATO alliance and countries that depend heavily on grain from the Black Sea region to feed their people.
Earlier this week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko indicated that Moscow was ready to provide a corridor for vessels carrying food in return for lifting of some Western sanctions.
However, NATO members have indicated they would not be willing to lift sanctions unless Russia completely withdraws its military from Ukraine.