For the first time since Russia withdrew from the “grain initiative” in July 2023, two Turkish bulk carriers entered the port of Chornomorsk for grain loading.
According to the Ministry of Community Development, Territories, and Infrastructure of Ukraine, the bulk carriers Resilient Africa and Aroyat, flying the flag of Palau, utilized the temporary corridor to enter the Chornomorsk port for loading nearly 20 thousand tons of wheat destined for countries in Africa and Asia. The crews of these vessels consist of citizens from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Ukraine. Previously, the corridor was used for evacuating ships that were in Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Yuzhny during the full-scale Russian Federation invasion. During the period since August 15, five vessels have used the temporary corridor: the container ship Joseph Schulte and the bulk carriers Primus, Anna-Theresa, Ocean Courtesy, and Puma.
Ukraine remains committed to its obligations to importers and continues to implement a strategy and tactics to demonstrate the creation of a “grain corridor” without Russia. Ukraine continues active grain exports, either through river ports on the Danube or overland to European consumers or ports in EU countries for further transportation. Since the start of the grain season in July and August, Ukraine has exported approximately 5 million tons, which corresponds to the previous year’s level. It is likely that Ukraine will realize its entire or nearly entire export potential even if the Black Sea grain terminals do not operate at full capacity. Furthermore, Ukrainian authorities still hope for the unblocking of these terminals without Moscow’s approval.
Ukraine’s main task after exiting the ports of Odesa will be to ensure the safety of ships and crews. British reconnaissance aircraft are monitoring the situation in the Black Sea, and a maritime surface drone kamikaze patrols near Snake Island. Moreover, Ukraine’s state budget for the current year allocates 20 billion hryvnias for insuring ships ready to export agricultural products from Black Sea ports. Overall, step by step, Ukraine is doing everything within its resources and capabilities to ensure the export of Ukrainian agricultural products through the Black Sea. The entry of two Turkish bulk carriers into the port of Chornomorsk indicates that freight carriers are ready to use the new maritime corridor for transporting agricultural products, not just for evacuating ships from Ukraine.
What should be the response of the civilized world to Russia’s ongoing grain blackmail? Firstly, there should be no alternative grain deal with Russia. NATO should show determination and announce the convoying of grain trucks. Security guarantees should be tested with grain exports. If the USA and NATO can protect Ukrainian grain, they can also protect Ukraine.