Ukrainian grain cleared to ship despite Russian deal suspension
A dozen vessels carrying Ukrainian grain were cleared to leave Turkish ports on Monday, while the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul agreed on a plan to inspect further 40 ships, despite Moscow’s decision to suspend its participation in the agreement which ensured the safety of Kiev’s exports via the Black Sea.
“The Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations delegations agreed on a movement plan for tomorrow 31 October for the maritime humanitarian corridor of 16 vessels, 12 outbound and 4 inbound,” the JCC announced in a statement on Sunday.
In addition, the Ukrainian side agreed to a proposal that “the Turkish and United Nations delegations provide tomorrow 10 inspection teams aiming to inspect 40 outbound vessels,” without the participation of Russian inspectors.
The Russian delegation was “informed” of both plans, the statement added, noting that as per JCC procedures, “all participants coordinate with their respective military and other relevant authorities to ensure the safe passage” of the vessels.
Moscow has yet to issue an official statement, but a source cited by RIA Novosti claimed that Russia has “no obligations” under any “decisions taken without us.” However, according to JCC, the Russian delegation expressed its readiness to “continue the dialogue” and “cooperate remotely on issues that require immediate decision.”
Russia halted its compliance with the pact on Saturday, after Kiev launched a major drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo from Ukrainian ports. On Sunday, after studying the wreckage of the unmanned combat vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said that those behind the attack made active use of the UN-brokered grain corridor.
Most of the drones were launched from the Ukrainian Black Sea coast, not far from the port city of Odessa, the Russian military said. “The naval drones were then moving within the security zone of the grain corridor before changing course and heading towards the Russian naval base in Sevastopol,” the statement said. Navigational data from at least one naval drone shows that it was launched from a sea location within the grain corridor security zone, the ministry added.
The breakthrough grain exports deal between Moscow and Kiev was reached in Istanbul in July with mediation by the UN and Türkiye. The agreement was praised as critical to easing the global food crisis and helping the world’s poorest nations to avoid starvation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, repeatedly accused Western nations of taking over grain exported from Ukraine, instead of allowing it to be delivered to developing countries. Following the blast on the strategic Crimean Bridge earlier this month, Putin also warned that if it turns out that Ukraine used grain corridors to smuggle explosives, “it would put the very existence of these corridors in question.”