Hope to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative has all but vanished in the wake of Russia’s latest strikes on Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa and Ukraine’s strike against Russia’s naval fleet in Crimea.
Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov told reporters at the UN through a translator Friday, export corridors are no longer viable. He said, “Those corridors were used several times to launch UAVs over the maritime space to carry out strikes on Russian ships. And we warned, we issued warnings several times, and those warnings were not heeded.”
The Black Sea Grain Initiative has been a global food and fertilizer lifeline for more than a year, but Lavrov charges the deal’s promises to Russia for sanctions relief were not upheld.
Lavrov said, “We have not seen our main agricultural bank returned to the SWIFT system, nor have we seen a solution for, to allow Russia’s unimpeded access to ports in the Mediterranean and others.”
But Russia’s attacked Ukraine’s grain industry for months, increasing assaults as the summer harvest season ended and farmers tried to ship grain to needy developing countries and others.
USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer told this year’s Ag Outlook Forum; “The Black Sea Grain Initiative has been really critical for those folks to, in Ukraine, to achieve grain exports. If the Black Sea Grain Initiative does not continue, they will have to rationalize production further down. The Black Sea Grain Initiative is serving a very important purpose to get that product out and moderate global grain prices.”
But the grain deal’s lapse this summer forced Ukraine to use more expensive overland routes resisted by close neighbors fearing competition with local farmers, and dangerous sea routes.