Russia is not hindering food exports from Ukraine, while authorities in Kiev are blocking cargo vessels from leaving their ports in the Black Sea, Russia’s US Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said.
“Russia is not trying to impede Ukrainian food exports. We understand very well the importance of resuming supplies to the countries in need. But the departure of merchant vessels from the Black Sea ports is hampered by the Kiev authorities’ actions,” Antonov stated in his article published by The National Interest magazine.
The ambassador stated that it was a decision of authorities from Kiev “to install around 420 mines” adding that “due to their outdated construction, their anchors often fall off, which only increases their danger.”
According to him, Russia resorts to all necessary measures to restore the maritime navigation.
“Russia is taking measures to support civilian shipping. The port of Mariupol has been cleaned up and has resumed its operations,” Antonov said. “Since March, the Russian Navy has been organizing daily humanitarian corridors from the territorial waters of Ukraine to the Bosporus Strait. The detailed coordinates have been made public.”
The Russian diplomat also expressed gratitude to Turkey for its assistance in providing safety for the maritime navigation.
“We are grateful to our Turkish partners for their attention to the issue of restoring food deliveries across the Black Sea and for the readiness demonstrated by Ankara to search for solutions,” he noted.
“Success can only be achieved provided that Ukrainian authorities agree to cooperate on the matter constructively. They should start by removing the mines they set,” Antonov added.
The ambassador also said that the port of Odessa was not the only one that can serve for the transportation of cargoes from Ukraine.
“In addition to Odessa, we see several more ways to organize the delivery of Ukrainian products abroad,” Antonov said. “For example, by using the infrastructure on the Azov Sea. We are ready to facilitate the smooth export of grain from the ports under our control.”
“There are also opportunities to use transport corridors through Poland, Romania, and Belarus. The only thing that the latter—and by far the easiest in terms of practical implementation – option requires is a sanctions lift on Belarusian fertilizers,” he added.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow guaranteed the unobstructed passage of vessels containing Ukrainian grain if Kiev clears mines from its ports and can guarantee the exports through the ports controlled by Russia, such as Berdyansk and Mariupol.
According to the Russian leader, Ukraine may also export grain by land with Belarus being the most logical route yet in order to do so, Western sanctions imposed on that East European country must be lifted. The Russian president also reiterated that problems on the global food market started as early as February 2020. He dismissed statements that Russia was allegedly blocking grain in Ukrainian ports as mere bluffing.