Although Russia suspended its participation in a deal that would allow Ukraine to export its grain by ship, 12 cargo ships carrying grain set sail from the country’s Black Sea ports on Monday after the deal’s brokers, Turkey and the United Nations had notified Moscow.
The departures of the ships allowed to sail before the deal was suspended appeared to be uneventful. Moscow’s announcement on Saturday meant a halt to its participation in ship inspections at the port of Istanbul – and ensuring safety for all cargo ships crossing the Black Sea, where its navy dominates.
Russia’s Defense Ministry stressed the point in a statement Monday night, saying that shipping traffic through the security corridor established for the Grain Initiative was “unacceptable”. She accused the Ukrainian military of using the corridor for “operations” against Russia without providing evidence, saying “there can be no question of ensuring security” until Ukraine makes additional pledges not to use it for “military purposes.” ” to use.
There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian government or the United Nations, which helped broker the original deal.
Noting the potential risks, the Southern Command of the Ukrainian military said on Monday that Russian shelling of the Black Sea port in Ochakiv hit two civilian smugglers involved in transporting a grain barge. Two people were killed and another crew member was injured, it said. The incident and the ships involved did not appear to be directly related to the grain business.
The statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry – coupled with comments by Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya, told Interfax that Moscow “cannot allow unhindered passage of ships without our inspection” – signaled that the movement of some grain-carrying ships on Monday this could were unique.
Some analysts believe the initiative could still be restarted because Moscow merely suspended its participation and did not physically withdraw its representatives from the headquarters overseeing its implementation in Istanbul. The Kremlin also sees the deal, which is due to expire in mid-November if not renewed, as leverage to achieve bigger goals, analysts say.
Alexandra Prokopenko, An independent analyst and Russia expert writing for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said the deal is in fact a “political tool” for the Kremlin. A Russian goal in any talks to determine whether to resume or extend the deal could be to secure further exemptions for its own food and fertilizer exports from so-called hidden sanctions such as the increased cost of insuring ships, he said you.
“Russia stopped the deal, but it opened a loophole for Turkey to negotiate,” she said, maintaining a presence at the Joint Coordination Center — which houses the team of officials from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations who the grain monitor ships.
Turkey has been a key facilitator for the Black Sea Grains Initiative Agreement, which guarantees safe passage to Istanbul for ships carrying agricultural exports from ports in Ukraine, as well as ships bound for the country. Vessels are inspected in Istanbul, where the Joint Coordination Center is based.
Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat and other grains and the deal signed in July had offered hope for Ukraine’s economy and the prospect of relief for the countries facing a food crisis.
Russia suspended its participation after an attack on its Black Sea fleet it blamed on Ukraine, but Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Monday that his government would continue efforts to overcome Moscow’s opposition.
“Russia is hesitating,” Mr Erdogan said, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency, but adding: “We will continue our efforts to serve humanity.”
Global wheat prices rose about 6 percent to around $8.80 a bushel at the start of trading Monday, before stabilizing. That’s far less than just before the start of the full-scale invasion of Russia in February, when prices rose to more than $12 a bushel.
The ships carrying about 390,000 tons of agricultural products left Ukrainian ports, including Odessa, on Monday, Mr Bratchuk said. According to Ismini Palla, a spokeswoman for the Joint Coordination Center, the United Nations and Turkey have notified Russian authorities.
Ivan Nekhepurenko and Safak Timur contributed reporting.