Lithuanian FM calls for shipping corridor to export Ukrainian grain

The foreign minister of Lithuania has proposed opening a safe shipping corridor on the Black Sea to allow resumption of grain exports from Ukraine.

Gabrielius Landsbergis spoke to NHK on Tuesday in Tokyo.

He said the invasion of Ukraine has proven that Russia is "an aggressive neighbor ready and willing to use military force to attack its neighbors."

He also said his country shares a 700-kilometer border with Belarus, whose territory was used by Russian troops to attack Ukraine.

He noted that with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to the west, Lithuania is "squeezed in between two aggressors."

Landsbergis indicated that the Baltic country will ask NATO to deploy more troops to its territory. Lithuania is a member of the military alliance.

About the Russian blockade of southern Ukrainian ports that is preventing grain exports, he said that creating a "secure corridor could be one of the options."

He called on Western countries to provide weapons to Ukraine so its ships won't be attacked by Russian forces, adding that a security guarantee is needed.

The minister proposed a convoy made up of vessels from willing countries to escort grain transport ships from Odesa to the Bosphorus Strait.

He indicated that he will ask Japan and other countries to take part.

Lithuania's relations with China have deteriorated after the Baltic nation allowed Taiwan to open a representative office under its own name last year.

Landsbergis said exports to China have dropped to almost zero.

He also said China's actions against Lithuania "clearly showed to what extent China can go when it wants to change one country's foreign policy."

But he said the ties between like-minded democratic societies are much stronger and the trust that builds through these ties is "much more long-lasting and practically also much more beneficial to the countries."