Turkey tries to bring back 22 cargo vessels stranded on Ukrainian coast: minister

Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu has said that his country is trying to bring back its 22 cargo ships stranded on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

“We must get those ships from there. Initially, there were over 200 crew members. We have evacuated some of them. Now there are 90 left … (who) do not want to leave the ship,” Karaismailoglu was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying.

These cargo ships are loaded with grain, sunflower oil, and iron, the minister told reporters, noting Turkey has been negotiating with both Ukraine and Russia for the safe return of the vessels.

The cargo ships stranded in the Russia-controlled Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait returned to Turkey weeks ago, said Karaismailoglu.

However, a ship prepared for the evacuation of civilians from Ukraine to Turkey has been waiting for 10 days as the negotiations with Russia and Ukraine have not yielded a result yet, the Turkish minister noted.

“An agreement could not be reached between the two countries (Russia and Ukraine) regarding the first aid supplies and the arrival of the injured to Turkey,” he said.

Earlier, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey could provide evacuation of civilians by sea from Mariupol, a key port on the Sea of Azov in eastern Ukraine.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that nearly 30 Turkish citizens are being stranded in Mariupol, which has witnessed the worst violence in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. ■

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