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Ukraine: Grain ships depart Black Sea ports

November 3, 2022

The departure of ships carrying Ukrainian grain comes as Russia weighs whether it will extend the export initiative beyond November 19. The deal could help ease a food crisis in developing countries.

Turkish cargo ship Rubymar transporting Ukrainian grain
The grain export deal attempts to alleviate the global food crisis which was caused by Russia's invasion of UkraineImage: Mehmet Emin Calsikan/REUTERS

Seven ships transporting agricultural products departed the Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Thursday, Kyiv's Infrastructure Ministry said.

What is the significance of the ship departures?

This development came a day after Russia on Wednesday made the decision to reaffirm the grain export deal, allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported over the Black Sea.

This opens the prospect of exporting Ukrainian food to international markets.

The transport ships were sailing for European and Asian nations with 290,000 tonnes of food items, the ministry said. In all, the UN said the deal allowed 10 million tons of grain to leave Ukraine.

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell expressed gratitude to the UN and Turkey for their role in "Russia's decision to return to the Black Sea Grain initiative." 

"Food should never be used as a weapon of war," Borrell tweeted.

Russia rejoins Ukraine grain export deal

Russia may not extend agreement

Yet, Moscow has signaled that it is unsure whether it will renew the deal when it expires on November 19. 

"Before making a decision on an extension, we will need to give an overall assessment of the effectiveness of the deal," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.    

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday appealed to both sides to renew the deal.  

Russia quit the deal last week after drones targeted its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. Moscow rejoined the agreement when it said it received security guarantees for safe maritime passage in the region. Russia invaded Ukraine in February. 

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry rejected Russia's claims that it had made security guarantees, saying it has made "no new commitments" beyond those in the original deal. 

Kyiv also said earlier that Moscow has used a "false pretext" to quit the agreement in the first place.

The deal is crucial in securing food supplies for developing countries in Africa and the Middle East. Ukraine is a major global exporter of wheat, along with Russia.  

wd, ss/sms (Reuters, dpa)