Photo Credit: Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times
Ukraine sent its first shipment of wheat last Monday. The commodity originated from the port of Odesa and is part of an agreement between Ukraine and the United Nations. The announcement increased the confidence of many since there have been supply chain disruptions due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Since February 26, two days following the primary assault of Russia on Ukraine, it has been hard for Ukrainian business vessels to leave the port. The M/V Razoni is the first to make the movement across the Black Sea port from this point forward.
The boat carries approximately 26,500 metric tons, or about 29,000 US tons of corn. The UN announced that the shipment would be received from the port of Tripoli in Lebanon.
In July, representatives of Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement with the UN and Turkey to support exports in an effort to replenish grain stocks. However, according to US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power, more than 20 million tons of corn and wheat have been suspended in the port of Odesa.
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According to Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, he is happy with the development and called it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
M/V Razoni will arrive on the Istanbul coast, where the authorities can inspect it. Once done, authorities will clear it for the final phase.
Before the shipment
Russian forces have blocked the grain from Ukraine since the start of the war. This has created supply chain problems in countries heavily dependent on Ukrainian grain.
In a surprising move, the understanding that both the countries facilitated on July 23 unblocked the ports and permitted a safe section of trading boats of grain and oilseeds across the Black Sea. The countries also consulted with specialists to keep the vessel away from the mines. Designated checkpoints would likewise be installed across Istanbul to keep weapons from being snuck.
The agreement was tough to obtain. It took months of diplomatic talks. And finally, the two countries reached a quorum and decided to go through with the deal – although diplomats were closely watching Russia’s involvement in the deal after its strike in Odessa.
Senior diplomats said they are satisfied with Russia’s choice to sign the agreement, but the country must abide by the agreement.
“This is such an important step, but it is a first step,” said Melinda Simmons in a Tweet. “[Russia] now needs to honour their side of this deal and let grain ships pass safely. And they need to stop burning and appropriating [Ukrainian] grain,” added the British ambassador to Kyiv.
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The US Embassy in Kyiv stated, “The world will be watching for continued implementation of this agreement to feed people around the world with millions of tons of trapped Ukrainian grain.”
“It’s a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of the mechanisms that were agreed upon during the Istanbul talks,” said the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who also expressed his delight after the announcement.
Discussion for more shipments?
According to the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul, no further shipments of grain from the Black Sea will be organized at the moment. The JCC said the parties are still watching the flow of the first shipment before discussing another round of exports. The JCC will carefully facilitate shipments.
The UN hopes the newly negotiated deal will recover more than 5 million tons of wheat every month, despite the damage to production caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of the main grain exporters in the world. Three-fourths of Ukraine’s reap from grain go to other countries.