Russia restricts grain shipments to Ukraine UN issues a new threat assessment to global food security
Russia restricts grain shipments to Ukraine UN issues a new threat assessment to global food security

New York: As part of its campaign to persuade Kyiv to open a pipeline allowing a crucial component of fertiliser to reach global markets, Russia is restricting the number of ships permitted to pick up Ukrainian grain at Black Sea ports, the United Nations warned on Thursday.

Only 33 ships left Ukrainian ports in May, which is half as many as in April, and only 1.3 million metric tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs were exported last month, less than half as much as in April, according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

According to him, Russia has informed the Istanbul facility in charge of overseeing the arrivals, departures, and inspections of ships taking part in the Black Sea Grain Initiative "of its decision to limit registrations in the port of Yuzhny as long as ammonia is not exported, and it is not currently."

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Moscow wants Ukraine to reopen the pipeline it used to transport ammonia to its clients around the world before the war, from the Russian city of Togliatti to the Ukrainian port of Odesa. Ammonia is a key component of fertiliser.

Last July, Turkiye and the UN mediated a breakthrough agreement with Russia and Ukraine that allowed for the export of grain from three of Ukraine's important Black Sea ports—Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny.

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The UN trade chief Rebeca Grynspan has been attempting to resolve obstacles to Russian food and fertiliser shipments for months, but Moscow has criticised the lack of progress. In a separate memorandum, the UN said it would work to resolve these obstacles.

In March, Russia unilaterally decided to extend the grain agreement for 60 days rather than the 120 days specified in the agreement, in an effort to emphasise its failure to export its fertiliser. And on May 17, just days before it was set to expire, Moscow agreed to another two-month extension until July 17, in yet another display of its brinkmanship.

Global food prices skyrocketed after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, one of the world's major breadbaskets, severely impacting poorer, developing nations.

Food prices began to decline following the July agreements, but Dujarric cautioned that "global hunger hotspots are increasing and the spectre of food inflation and market volatility lurks in all countries."

The port of Yuzhny is blocked, and more than 1.5 million tonnes of agricultural products are waiting there to be shipped to at least ten countries, including Turkey, China, Egypt, and Bangladesh, according to a tweet from Ukraine's president on Wednesday.

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"Obviously, the less food is supplied to these countries and regions, the higher the food prices are, the more people in these countries lose from their family budgets," he urged everyone to put pressure on Russia to open food supplies.

Only three ships departed from the port of Yuzhny in May, according to Dujarric.
He stated that there are now only two teams inspecting ships as opposed to three since May 24. A serious situation is being created by this as well as the slowdown in ship registration.

According to Dujarric, the UN has made useful recommendations "at the strategic and operational level" and will keep in touch with Russia and Ukraine.

In particular, according to Dujarric, "we are looking for commitments on unconditional access of vessels to all three ports under the initiative, increased number of successfully completed inspections per day, predictable registrations to avoid undue delays of vessels, exports of fertilisers, including ammonia, and the restart of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline.

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