Secretary Blinken Says Ukraine Grain Shipments Good But Small First Step

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the recent grain shipments from Ukraine are a good first step, but small compared with the amount of stored grain the Russians have blocked from export until now.

Blinken, speaking to reporters at the UN recently, was asked about the first shipment of grain from Ukraine’s major port of Odessa. “We were pleased to see that the first ship did move. It does have 26-27,000 tons of grain, but keep in mind there are something like 20 million tons that are in silos and storage in Ukraine that’s been held back by the Russian blockade of Odesa up until now, and it needs to get out.”

Blinken says the world is depending on it. “It needs to get out to world markets, it needs to get to places where people are in desperate need of food, it needs to get out so that prices also continue to go down, not up.”

And that will take shipment of much more grain than the initial shipments.

“It’s a start, it’s important. But the test is now really in the days and weeks ahead. More ships need to move, more grain needs to get to market. That’s what will really make a difference.”

Since Blinken spoke, two more ships have left or were to leave Ukrainian ports. A Malta-flagged ship headed for Britain and a Turkey-flagged vessel from the same port, also with corn. Blinken praised the UN for brokering the deal through Turkey that eased the Russian blockade.