Ukraine’s allies are keen to establish a “coalition of the willing” to break the Russian blockade and establish a “protective corridor” from Odesa to the Bosporus. It comes amid increasing fears time is running out to prevent a world food crisis with many countries, particularly developing ones, struggling due to lack of supplies from Ukraine.
Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has discussed the idea of a corridor with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
He suggested that the coalition could include some NATO countries along with those who are dependent on grain from Ukraine.
It is believed that Egypt, which has been hit hard by wheat shortage, might be willing to take part.
Mr Landsbergis accused the Russians of “holding hostage the vulnerable countries of the world” by not allowing Ukraine to supply them with enough food.
He added that alternatives, such as bringing grain out by train and lorry, would not be sufficient.
He said countries “could provide ships or planes that would be stationed in the Black Sea and provide maritime passage for the grain ships to leave Odesa’s port and reach the Bosphorus in Turkey”.
Mr Landsbergis added that, although the ships could be warships, such a move would not “signify an escalation because it is not taking part in the war”.
Ms Truss said that the UK was working on an “urgent solution” to the food crisis.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasised the need for a “safe corridor”.
He said: “We need to agree on a safe corridor.
“Russia will not be able to stand against the leading countries of the world.
“We are talking to the Baltics about using their seaports.”
However, one Western official told The Times that it would be risky to undertake such an operation without Russian permission.
They said: “To try and do it without Russia’s consent would raise the risk there could be an incident.”