Ukraine’s grain exports back on track after tense standoff

After announcing its withdrawal from the ‘Black Sea grain initiative’ on 29 October, Russia will rejoin a UN-backed agreement to allow the exporting of grain from Ukraine via a safe Black Sea corridor, with shipments expected to resume in the week of 31 October.

Ukraine’s grain exports back on track after tense standoff
Grain exports from Ukraine is expected to resume this week, after Russia temporarily withdrew from an agreement to allow safe passage of such shipments.
Photo: Pixabay
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According to Aljazeera, Russia’s defence ministry confirmed that the country would again participate, saying it had received “sufficient” guarantees from the Ukrainian government that it would not use the maritime corridor for military operations against Russia.

Before the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in February this year, up to 95% of Ukrainian grain and oilseeds were being exported from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, Pivdennyi, Kherson, and Mykolaiv on the Black Sea, and the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupil on the Sea of Azov, according to a report on the Successful Farming website.

However, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian troops occupied the ports on the Sea of Azov and in Kherson, while the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, Pivdennyi, and Mykolaiv were blockaded.

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This resulted in grain and oilseed exporters frantically searching for alternative export routes, which resulted in much of these commodities being exported via the country’s western land borders, as well as ports on the Danube River.

According to the report, chaos ensued at railway crossings on the country’s western borders due to the large number of train carriages. In addition, long queues of trucks formed that were tens of kilometres long, especially on Ukraine’s border with Poland.

In addition, there was limited capacity at the four ports on the Danube River, and they were soon inundated by the large volume of grain being transported by the trains and trucks.

The situation deteriorated even further after Russian troops destroyed the bridge across Dniester Estuary in late April, and exporters were forced to use detours to move grain and oilseeds to the ports on the Danube River via Moldova, the report said.

In addition, export to the Baltic states via Belarus stopped when Belarus reportedly sided with Russia.

In early June, the EU suspended quotas on Ukrainian agricultural commodities such as dairy products, flour, and bran for one year, in an attempt to ease that country’s dire financial situation, which also facilitated an increase in the flow of exports.

Under the ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’ agreed on in early August, Russia unblocked the ports of Big Odesa, which helped to restore grain and oilseed exports.

Exports of sunflower oil to China and India also resumed, and by late October, more than 400 cargo vessels had departed from Ukrainian ports carrying nearly 9,5 million tons of grain and other food products.

All these operations ground to a halt after Russian warships in the Sevastopol Bay were attacked by drones on 29 October.

Russian military authorities had since claimed that drones were launched from a cargo vessel moving along the “green corridor”, and announced that country’s withdrawal from the ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’.

The initiative had brought much-needed relief to a global food crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Aljazeera.

“Under the terms of the deal, ships moving to and from Ukraine are inspected by a joint team of Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian and UN officials.”