KATERYNA TYSHCHENKO - FRIDAY, 3 JUNE 2022, 9:11 P.M.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia is prepared to ensure the export of Ukrainian grain through the Russian-occupied ports of Berdiansk and Mariupol, and to guarantee the peaceful passage of grain ships to international waters from ports under Ukrainian control.
Source: Putin in an interview with the programme "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin"
Details: Putin claims that Russia is not interfering with the export of Ukrainian grain abroad and that there are several export options.
Quote: "First of all, you’re welcome to export through the ports controlled by Ukraine, the Black Sea coast - Odesa and nearby ports. It wasn’t us who mined the approach to the port, it was Ukraine that mined it. Let them clear the mines, and let the grain ships leave the port. We guarantee their peaceful passage into international waters without any problems.
They have to demine and lift the ships that were deliberately sunk in the Black Sea to make it difficult to enter these ports in southern Ukraine. We are prepared to do that, we will not make use of the demining situation to carry out any attacks from the sea.
Secondly, there is another possibility. The ports on the Sea of Azov - Berdiansk, Mariupol - are under our control. We are prepared to ensure the smooth export of Ukrainian grain, among other things, through these ports. We are finishing up our demining operations. We will take care of the necessary logistics."
Details: Putin also noted that Ukraine could export grain through Romania, Hungary or Poland.
"Yes, there are some technical problems there because the track gauge is different and the trucks need to be changed, but that's a matter of a few hours," he said.
Putin also said that exporting Ukrainian grain through Belarus is the simplest and cheapest option.
"But that means lifting the sanctions on Belarus. The President of Belarus puts the question like this. If anyone wants to solve the problem, if there is one, of the export of Ukrainian grain, then go ahead, the easiest way [is] through Belarus," said the Russian president.
- On 30 May, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that due to Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and the seizure of the Ukrainian part of the Sea of Azov, Ukraine has been unable to export 22 million tonnes of grain in storage.
- Ukraine and its partners are discussing the possibility of establishing an international mission to unblock Ukrainian maritime exports and, as a first step, Ukraine requires Russia to withdraw its forces in the maritime waters around Ukraine and provide guarantees of non-aggression.
- Russia, for its part, says it is prepared to let ships carrying Ukrainian grain through "if Ukraine demines the ports" and in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions. The US and the UK have said they are not going to consider such concessions.
- Alexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, told the UN Secretary General that he was prepared to provide a "grain corridor" through Belarus to the Baltic ports, provided these ports allow Belarusian cargo to be loaded too.