The passage of a cargo ship from Ukraine to Turkey this week vindicated Kyiv’s gamble that Russia would not act on threats to attack commercial shipping in the Black Sea. But the successful gambit leaves a bigger question for Ukraine: Will any other commercial vessels follow the Joseph Schulte and dare to call Russia’s bluff?
Wheat prices have risen sharply on global markets after Russia said it would treat ships heading for Ukrainian ports as potential military targets, BBC reported. Moscow pulled out of a deal this week that had guaranteed safe passage for grain shipments through the Black Sea.
Following on Russia's unilateral withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal and its threats to ships transporting agricultural goods from Ukraine, the EU said on Tuesday that it was looking into expanding export routes via road and rail.
Moscow warned that the outlook for extending a deal beyond May 18 that allows the safe wartime export of grain and fertilizer from several Ukrainian Black Sea ports was not great as Russia’s own such exports still faced obstacles.
The UN and Turkey-sponsored deal aimed at easing global food shortages by facilitating Ukraine’s agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports was extended for 120 days last Friday, though Moscow complained that its own demands had not been fully addressed.
UK Foreign Secretary, High Representative of the European Union, and US Secretary of State gave a statement on global food security and Russia sanctions. The statement follows on Russia's complaints that it saw no progress on easing its exports of fertilizers and grain – parts of the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow views as fundamental to extending the initiative beyond next week.
With nearly 100 grain-laden ships reaching towards the horizon off Istanbul, the U.N. official overseeing exports from Ukraine is asking Russia and other parties to end “full-blown” inspections of outgoing vessels to ease the backlog.
London’s insurance industry is gearing up to cover Ukrainian grain and fertilizer shipments via a safe corridor, which could require up to US$50 million per insured cargo, industry sources said this week.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the hit on the Black Sea port of Odessa was completely unwarranted, adding that not a word Russian President Vladimir Putin says can be trusted.
The price of wheat in global markets went back to pre-war figures Friday, after Ukraine and Russia agreed on a truce to allow for the departure of exports from Black Sea ports under Kyiv's control.