Black Sea grain deal shipments on hold Wednesday, following Russia suspension
UN officials stationed at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) for the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative have said there will be no movement of vessels on Wednesday, in the light of Russia’s decision to suspend its involvement in the deal.
In the regular daily briefing to reporters in New York on Tuesday, UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said the Ukrainian, Turkish and UN delegations that remain active in the deal, had reached agreement on the pause at the JCC, which is based in Istanbul.
Russia declared that it was putting its involvement in the deal on hold last Saturday, and in the Security Council on Monday, Russia’s Permanent Representative told ambassadors debating his country’s withdrawal, at least for now, that the deal simply could not continue, without Russian participation.
News reports on Tuesday quoted Russia’s ministry of defence saying it was “unacceptable” for shipping to use the safety corridor established by the grain initiative, accusing Ukraine of using it to “conduct operations” against Russia, which Ukraine has categorically denied.
Door left open
Russia has not ruled out re-engaging with the deal, and nor have its representatives left JCC headquarters in Istanbul, according to news reports. The deal is set to formally lapse in the middle of this month.
The Initiative credited with lowering essential food prices and boosting the vital export of lifesaving foodstuffs to countries in danger of famine, was signed by the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Türkiye last July, and has transported close to 10 million metric tonnes of grain from three Ukrainian ports along agreed routes, with joint inspections conducted by the JCC.
Mr. Haq said that operations that were already underway before Russia’s suspension, had continued, with 36 inspections carried out on board outbound ships during Tuesday.
“The teams boarded another two ships, but the process was suspended due to issues related to fumigated cargo. All inspection reports will be shared with the Russian and Ukrainian delegations”, he said.
“The UN Secretariat reiterates that movements and inspections carried out after the Russian Federation suspended its participation in implementation activities at the Joint Coordination Centre, is a temporary and extraordinary measure.”
Mr. Haq said UN Coordinator for the Secretary-General’s signature Initiative, Amir Abdulla, was cooperating closely with the Turkish delegation at the JCC, and “is exerting all efforts to resume full participation”.
He added that three outbound vessels had used the maritime humanitarian corridor, on Tuesday, as agreed by the three remaining delegations to the JCC.
“The Russian delegation to the JCC has been informed. Those vessels are carrying a total of 84,490 metric tonnes of grain and food products.”
As of Tuesday, the total tonnage of grain and foodstuffs moved from Ukrainian ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative is more than 9.7 million metric tonnes.
On Monday, 46 inspections on board outbound vessels were completed by UN and Turkish inspectors. Also on Monday, a total of 14 vessels, 12 outbound and two inbound, including a vessel chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP), used the humanitarian corridor safely.