The deal between Ukraine and Russia to unblock Ukrainian grain exports may offer a way forward to a possible ceasefire in the five-month conflict, said former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder told Stern weekly and broadcasters RTL/ntv on Wednesday, adding he had met Putin in Moscow last week.
“A first success is the grain deal, perhaps that can be slowly expanded to a ceasefire,” he said.
The Razoni, the first grain-carrying ship to leave Ukrainian ports in wartime with more than 26,000 tonnes of corn, safely anchored off Turkey’s coast on Tuesday.
An inspection team of Turkish, Ukrainian, Russian and UN officials – working under the Joint Control Centre (JCC) – started to inspect the vessel on Wednesday.
After the checks are complete, it will sail off towards the Lebanese city of Tripoli.
The easing of Russia’s blockade has raised hopes that a growing food crisis, in which millions in the world face hunger, can be thwarted.
If the first shipment reaches its final destination without obstacles, 16 other ships are expected to leave Ukraine to export grain to the world market.
The move was made possible earlier this month when Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed agreements with UN and Turkish officials on reopening blocked Black Sea delivery routes.
Earlier, Kyiv and Moscow had traded blame for the crisis.