Russia’s and Eastern Europe’s neighboring country, Ukraine, is a major wheat exporting nation and the country commands a significant position in the global wheat trade. The country’s exports got majorly affected by the ongoing conflict with Russia which led to the initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI)
A secure maritime humanitarian corridor between Russia and Ukraine was negotiated on 22nd July 22, by the United Nations and Turkey. Since the agreement, more than 400 ships carrying agricultural products have departed from Ukraine’s three ports, Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi. The deal was initiated to cater to the rising global food insecurity which arose out of the conflict and to curb the rising global grain prices but backlogs at the ports still remained significant.
On 17thNovember’22, the BSGI was extended for 120 days which was due to expire 2 days hence and this renewal has helped ease the concerns over the backlogs.
The Agriculture Ministry in Ukraine stated that a total of 675 ships carrying 18.4 million metric tons (MMT) of grain have left Ukrainian Black Sea ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Each party to the agreement has representatives in the Joint Coordination Center, which was established to coordinate the deal’s implementation.
Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry’s Statements
On 26th January’2023, the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry reported that Russian sabotage had caused grain exports from the country’s Black Sea ports to fall to a record low. According to the ministry, during January’23, the Black Sea Grain Initiative saw “on average ” two to three cargo ships departing Black Sea ports each day. Ships loaded with “only 2.4 MMT of grain” left Ukraine’s ports in January which is down from the 4MMT in October, and “The decline is due to the artificial blocking of the grain corridor by Russian inspectors,”. Ukraine has previously claimed that the Russian delegation is purposely delaying the process. Russia was held responsible by Kyiv for the delayed exports because of reluctance to expedite ship inspections.
Reasons Blamed On War
The Infrastructure Ministry of Ukraine reported in late December that some of the ships that had sailed under the grain initiative from Ukraine had been stuck in Turkish waters awaiting inspection for more than a month.
As per the Infrastructure Ministry in Ukraine, “This is the result of purposeful actions of the Russian delegation in the Joint Coordination Center aimed at slowing down the process of ship inspections”. In October ‘22, President Volodymyr Zelensky also said that Russia deliberately provoked the food crisis by delaying cargo ships with grain from Ukraine.
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