First Grain Ship to Leave Ukraine Port Since Russia Put Up a Blockade!
According to Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry, a ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa on Monday morning and went to Lebanon. This was the first time this has happened since the Russian invasion began.
After weeks of talks between Ukraine and Russia, led by Turkey and the United Nations, the ship Razoni with 26,000 tonnes of corn on board finally set sail. Since the start of the war, Russia has been blocking Ukraine’s ports. This has caused a worldwide shortage of grain, which has led the UN to warn of a looming hunger disaster.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said on Monday, “Today, Ukraine and our partners took another step toward ending world hunger.” Kubrakov said that Ukraine had done “everything” to get the ports back up and running and that when the blockade was lifted, the Ukrainian economy would get $1 billion in foreign exchange.
Ukraine is one of the biggest places in the world where grain is grown. It is said that about 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in Ukraine, waiting to be shipped out. The blockade has led to a shortage of grain and higher prices around the world. This has put some countries in the Middle East and Africa, which depend on grain imports, on the brink of famine.
Kubrakov said 16 loaded vessels had been stuck in Ukraine’s ports since the Russian invasion began, and officials planned for the ports to regain full transport capacity in the coming weeks.
But after an attack on the port of Odesa a week ago, the world is watching to see if Russia keeps its end of the deal.
In a deal signed on July 22 in Istanbul, Russia agreed to let grain ships leave Ukraine and not attack them. But when Russian forces attacked Odesa port less than 24 hours later, the deal was called into question.
When Turkey’s defense minister asked if Russia was involved in the attack, Russia at first said it wasn’t. But the next day, it said that it had hit a Ukrainian ship in the port that was carrying weapons from the west. The Ukrainian government didn’t believe what Russia said.
The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he wanted to avoid “any actions that go against the spirit of the agreement”, adding that the failure to implement the agreement would be “disadvantageous to us all”.
The US said Russia had undermined the credibility of its commitments, and shortly after it said it was working on a plan B to export more grain from Ukraine using its rivers and rail.
Since the blockade, Ukraine has been able to export more than 4 million tonnes of grain through the Danube River and its railroads. However, experts say it will take a lot of work to get back to the 6 million to 8 million tonnes a month that Ukraine exported before the war.
Industry experts say that a big problem for exports now and in the future will be finding insurers and crews who are willing to take the risk.
On Friday, Lloyd’s of London insurer Ascot and broker Marsh announced that they had started marine cargo and war insurance for grain and food products moving from Black Sea ports.
The British ambassador to Ukraine, Melinda Simmons, said that although the UK was not involved in the deal, it had helped in securing commercial insurance for the ships from providers in London. The announcement from Ascot signaled progress had been made.
Simmons said the port attack had worried insurance companies, but they should not be deterred. “The main thing is not to be scared of Russia’s tactics because that’s what they are – tactics, to stop this from happening,” she said.