Mon, 25 Sep 2023

LONDON, England: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that in order to move millions of tonnes of grain sitting in Ukraine, the UK is willing to assist with mine clearing operations off Ukraine's southern coast and was considering offering insurance to grain ships.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24th February and its blockade of its neighbor's Black Sea ports has prevented the export of more than 20 million tonnes of grain, which drove food prices to record highs.

Turkey is attempting to broker talks between the United Nations, Ukraine and Russia to create a safe sea corridor in the Black Sea, but in exchange, Moscow said that Western sanctions must be first lifted.

In an interview with Reuters during a visit to Rwanda for a Commonwealth summit, Johnson said, "There is a lot of work to be done. We are working with the Turks and other European friends and allies to see what we can do."

When asked whether the government could provide sovereign guarantees for shipping insurance, he added that the UK was considering all options.

"What the UK possibly has to offer, most of all, is expertise when it comes to maritime insurance, and a lot of expertise in moving goods through..contested areas of the sea," he said.

Responding to a question as to whether the UK was ready to help Ukraine clear mines from Ukrainian waters, Johnson stated, "Yes..but you can take it from what we have already done in supplying equipment to the Ukrainians to help, that we are certainly talking to them at a technical level to help de-mine Odessa."

Russia is committing a war crime by blocking the export of millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain, said the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief earlier this week.

Russia's blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports has brought the world "to the brink of a terrible food crisis," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this month.

Russia denies responsibility for the food crisis and blamed Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, which caused a surge in global food prices.

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