KYIV, UKRAINE — Fewer ship inspections as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative have led to significantly less grain leaving Ukraine's ports for world markets, according to Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov.
Kubrakov said in a Facebook post that exports of Ukraine's grain will not reach 3 million tonnes in November as Russia tries to limit ship inspections at ports. He said some 4.2 million tonnes of grain left Ukrainian ports in October, still far short of the 6 million tonnes the country potentially could reach monthly.
“It was the custom to conduct 40 inspections a day, now, due to Russia's position, there are five times fewer checks,” he said.
Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine also included a blockade of its Black Sea ports, through which most of its grain is exported. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, is aimed at easing global food shortages by helping Ukraine export its agricultural products and protecting the transit corridor from three Black Sea ports. Originally set to expire on Nov. 19, it was extended 120 days on Nov. 17.
Ukraine and Russia are major global grain exporters, together accounting for nearly 30% of global wheat exports annually prior to the war. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil, while Russia is a significant supplier of fertilizer. The two countries agreed that teams would check the vessels to ensure no barred people or goods were arriving at or departing from Ukrainian ports.
But Ukraine's exports have gotten off to a slower start with Ukraine putting the blame on Russia's reluctance to speed up ship inspections. Kubrakov said 77 ships were queuing to pass the inspection in Turkey while the three Black Sea ports use up to only 50% of their capacity.Kubrakov said US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and US Special Sanctions Policy Commissioner James O'Brien discussedways to strengthenthe grain deal while visiting the port of Odesa on Nov. 27 and speaking with port and agricultural businesses.