Russia blocks operation of grain corridor and transports military cargo on merchant ships, says Ukraine

15 February, 12:35 PM
Ships wait to pass through the Bosphorus in Istanbul on October 31, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Ships wait to pass through the Bosphorus in Istanbul on October 31, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

The Russian Federation is blocking the operation of the humanitarian grain corridor through the Black Sea, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba and Reconstruction and Development Minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a joint statement published on Feb. 15. 

Kuleba and Kubrakov highlighted that Russian representatives in the inspection groups and the coordination center in Istanbul have been delaying the inspection of ships passing through the Bosphorus strait to or from Ukrainian ports for several months in a row.

“They often demand unregulated documentation, refuse to work during working hours, and look for other groundless reasons to stop the inspection,” the statement reads.

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“Every day only half of the planned 10 inspections take place.”

They said that “such a destructive Russian policy has resulted in a systematic decrease of the freight turnover within the Grain initiative.”

“Only during the last three months the world received less than 10 million tons of Ukrainian food and this negative trend is gaining momentum,” the ministers noted.

“Due to the delay in inspections by Russia, a queue of more than 140 vessels has been formed in the Bosporus [Strait], the vast majority of which have been waiting there for more than a month. The food security of countries that depend on the export of Ukrainian agricultural products is under threat. First of all, due to Russia's actions, the countries of the Global South, in particular Africa and Asia, have food shortages.”

The ministers stated that at the same time, the volume of transportation through Russian seaports in the Azov and Black Seas basin in 2022 exceeded 250 million tons — more than in 2021. At the same time, the inspection of these ships is not carried out, and the aggressor country can use commercial ships to receive military goods.

“We call on the international community, in particular the UN and Türkiye as guarantors of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, to demand from the Russian federation to stop immediately the delays in the work of the Black Sea grain corridor, to stop Russia’s attempts to use food as a weapon and to unblock commercial navigation to the Ukrainian Black Sea ports,” Kuleba and Kubrakov said.

On Feb. 13, the Ministry of Infrastructure reported that since Aug. 1, 2022, 732 ships have departed from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, exporting 21 million tons of food to the countries of Asia, Europe, and Africa. If not for Russia's actions, more than 35 million tons would have been transported through the grain corridor.

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