Russia blocks ship inspections as part of grain deal, again
Photo via EPA

Russia blocked inspections of ships in the territorial waters of Turkey on Monday, a second time it has impeded the Black Sea grain initiative, Ukraine’s ministry of communities, territories and infrastructure said.

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In a statement, the ministry said that the Russian side in the Joint Coordination Center (SCC) in Istanbul had, since 10 April, unilaterally stopped registering vessels that Ukrainian ports submit to form an inspection plan.

"Meanwhile, the Russians form their own inspection plan by choosing the vessels from the queue at their discretion, which completely contradicts the terms of the initiative and is unacceptable for Ukraine," it added.

This led to a failure to draw up an inspection plan, the second in the nine months of operation of the grain deal, which "threatens [its] functioning," the Ukrainian side warns.

In addition, Russia’s representatives in the JCC "have been trying to interfere in the activities of Ukrainian ports and exporters by imposing their own criteria for determining specific vessels that will participate in the initiative." 

"This is another Russia's attempt to dictate its policies to the world, endanger food security, and use food as a weapon," Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said.

It called upon the UN and Turkey, the guarantors of the grain deal, to ensure that "Russia complies with the agreed procedures."

The grain deal, struck in July 2022, provided for limited exports of Ukrainian grain through three Black Sea ports, which had been blocked since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

By March, 1,848 ships had disembarked from the Ukrainian ports, carrying 25.9 million tons of Ukrainian agricultural products to Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Russia has claimed that the current grain deal does not guarantee its agricultural exports, allegedly blocked by Western sanctions in response to its aggression against Ukraine.