Russia-Ukraine news: The first ship with grain leaves leaves Odessa

Credit…Nicole Tang for The New York Times

BRUSSELS. There are many moving parts in the grain deal reached by Russia and Ukraine that officials did not consider possible until mid-June, not least because the war is ongoing and trust between the parties is extremely low.

Here’s what you need to know about the grain problem and how you can fix it.

Why is Ukrainian grain stuck inside the country?

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Feb. On August 24, he deployed warships along the Black Sea coast of Ukraine. Ukraine has mined these waters to deter a Russian naval attack. This meant that the ports used for the export of Ukrainian grain were blocked for commercial traffic. Russia also plundered grain stocks, mined grain fields so that they could not be harvested, and destroyed granaries.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/New York Times

How will the operation go?

Ukrainian captains will escort vessels with grain from the ports of Odessa, Yuzhny and Chernomorsk.

A joint command center will be immediately established in Istanbul with officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations to monitor every movement of the fleets.

Notes: The arrow indicates the general direction of movement; it does not represent

exact route. Source: European and other government officials.

Notes: The arrow indicates the general direction of movement; it does not represent

exact route. Source: European and other government officials.

The ships will sail to Turkish waters where they will be inspected by a joint team of Turkish, UN, Ukrainian and Russian officials, then deliver cargo to destinations around the world before returning for another inspection by the joint team before returning to Ukraine.

The agreement states that the main responsibility of the inspection team is to check “unauthorized cargo and personnel on board ships arriving at or departing from Ukrainian ports.” Russia’s key demand was that the returning ships not carry weapons to Ukraine.

The parties have agreed that the ships and port facilities used for their operations will be protected from hostilities.

It is expected that the company will quickly start shipping five million tons of grain per month. At this pace, and given that 2.5 million tons are already being transported by land and rivers to Ukraine’s friendly neighbors, stocks of almost 20 million tons should be neutralized within three to four months. This will free up storage space for the new crop, which is already underway in Ukraine.

What are the risks?

There have been no negotiations for a broad ceasefire, so the ships will be passing through the war zone. Attacks near ships or in the ports they use may violate the agreement. Another risk could be breach of trust or disagreement between inspectors and joint command officials.

The role of the UN and Turkey is to resolve such differences on the ground and to monitor and enforce the agreement. The agreement is valid for 120 days, and the UN hopes that it will be extended.

Credit…Sergey Bobok/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Will this immediately solve the problem of world hunger and lower food prices?

No. Global hunger is an ongoing problem caused by poor food distribution and price manipulation that affects parts of the world year after year. It is often exacerbated by conflict and also affected by climate change. The war in Ukraine, which produces most of the world’s wheat, has placed a huge strain on grain distribution networks, driving up prices and stoking hunger.

Officials say the agreement could increase the flow of wheat to Somalia within weeks, averting a full-blown famine, and should lead to a gradual decline in global grain prices. But given the fragility of the deal, grain markets are unlikely to return to normal immediately.

What’s in it for Russia?

Russia is also a major exporter of grains and fertilizers, and the agreement should make it easier to sell these commodities on the world market.

The Kremlin has repeatedly stated that its stocks cannot be exported due to sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.

The measures don’t really affect these goods, but private shipping companies, insurers, banks and other businesses are reluctant to help Russia export grain and fertilizer for fear they could face sanctions or that doing business with Russia could damage their reputation. .

As a reassurance, the European Union released a legal clarification of its sanctions on July 21, stating that various banks and other companies involved in the grain trade were not, in fact, banned.

The United Nations said that, armed with similar assurances from the United States, it had negotiated with the private sector and that trade from Russia, especially the Russian port of Novorossiysk, should pick up.


July 22, 2022

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the process agreed between Ukraine and Russia for grain carriers. The ships will deliver cargo to various destinations and return to Ukrainian ports, stopping for inspection in Turkey. Their cargo will not necessarily be unloaded in Turkey in order to be delivered to the destination by other ships.