Ukraine is working on an “UN-led naval operation” with navies of partnering countries to ensure a safe trade route for exporting its agricultural products, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday.
"Ukraine is working on an international UN-led operation with navies of partners ensuring a safe trade route with no security risks," Kuleba wrote on Twitter, without providing any further details on the operation.
In the tweet, the foreign minister blamed Russia of playing "hunger games with the world by blocking Ukrainian food exports with one hand and trying to shift the blame on Ukraine with the other."
During a phone call on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that Ankara places a “particular importance” on efforts to establish a safe corridor to export Ukrainian agricultural products by sea, according to a Turkish readout of the call.
As far as Moscow's cooperation is concerned, earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that if Ukraine clears its coastal waters from mines, Russian naval forces will guarantee the passage of grain ships to the Mediterranean Sea.
More background: On Friday, Zelensky said that 22 million tons of grain, accounting for nearly half of Ukraine’s grain export supply, is being held up by Russia's blockade of the main export routes through the Black Sea and Azov Sea.
The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected the accusations that it has blocked grain supplies from Ukraine and has accused the West of actions that have led to this crisis.
With previous reporting from CNN’s Isil Sariyuce, Anna Chernova and Anastasia Graham-Yooll