KYIV, UKRAINE — While seven vessels left Ukraine’s ports on Oct. 23, Ukraine said its facilities on the Black Sea are operating well below capacity and accused Russia of impeding the full implementation of a grain deal meant to ease global food concerns, Reuters reported. 

“Russia is deliberately blocking the full realization of the Grain Initiative,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said in a statement via the Telegram messaging app, according to Reuters. “As a result, these (Ukrainian) ports in the last few days are working only at 25% to 30% of their capacity.” 

The seven ships carrying a total of 124,300 tonnes of foodstuffs left from ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi, according to the ministry.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, paved the way for Ukraine to resume grain exports from three Black Sea ports that had been shut since Russia invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24. Moscow won guarantees for its own grain and fertilizer exports.

Ukraine has called for the renewal of the deal, but concerns over whether Russia will agree to an extension beyond the Nov. 19 deadline have grown recently. Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, last week told Reuters that Moscow had delivered a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres setting out a list of complaints about the initiative.

Since Aug. 1, the grain deal struck in Istanbul has resulted in 380 vessels carrying 8.5 million tonnes of agricultural products from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, according to the ministry. The deal has eased a world food crisis, but as more shippers have joined, the handful of inspection teams has fallen behind.

Concerns have been raised by trade specialists about the wait time for vessels due to reduced numbers of inspections, which have been significantly less than the 12 supposed to be conducted each day. 

Ukraine, a major global supplier of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, still lags far behind in grain exports year-on-year, having shipped 10.8 million tonnes in 2022-23, compared to 16.5 million tonnes through Oct. 17 of 2021-22, according to Reuters.