Turkey is organizing talks on Wednesday to try to break the deadlock over the export of grain shipments from Ukraine.
Military representatives from Turkey, Russia and Ukraine are meeting with a UN delegation to discuss the “safe shipment of grain waiting in Ukrainian ports to international markets by sea,” Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.
While the conflict is confined within Ukraine’s borders, the impact it is having on food security is truly global.
The Black Sea Basin is one of the world’s most important areas for grain and agricultural production, according to the World Food Programme. As such, the effects of the conflict have increased the pressure on resources and access to food for countries around the world.
Ukraine, known as the “breadbasket of Europe”, was the fifth largest exporter of wheat in the world market last year. According to a report published by the World Food Program (WFP) earlier this month, Ukraine’s export capacity is now about one-sixth of what it was before the war.
The WFP said it is “closely coordinating with key actors (EU member states and IFIs) on ways to optimize grain exports from Ukraine with all options: road, rail, river and sea.”
Last month, the WFP warned that the “ripple effects” of the conflict would “push millions of people in countries around the world into poverty and hunger.”
The crisis is having devastating effects on impoverished countries like Egypt and Somalia, which get about 80% and 90% of their wheat respectively from Russia and Ukraine and have seen massive price increases since the conflict began.
The report published by the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on June 6 said that “the war in Ukraine has exacerbated already steadily rising food and energy prices worldwide, which are already affecting economic stability in all countries.” affect regions.”
The Russian invasion on February 24 came after the winter crop of wheat was planted, meaning it is now ready to harvest. But the agricultural sector has been paralyzed by numerous factors.
Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by the war, which has had a huge impact on manpower. Meanwhile, the farmers that remain face numerous challenges. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow of employing scorched earth tactics that have destroyed massive amounts of crops, storage and machinery, while also exposing the danger of unexploded missiles and ammunition scattering the fields.
Dozens of silos and some of the largest export terminals have been destroyed by Russian bombing. One of the largest – in the southern city of Mykolaiv – contained some 250,000 tons of grain before it was burned in June.
In addition, some analysts say there are challenges in obtaining diesel fuel due to the destruction of refineries, meaning some crops cannot be harvested.
Russia has blocked the ports of the Black Sea, meaning already harvested grain cannot be exported internationally. The UN has said the blockade has already pushed world food prices up and threatens to create a catastrophic food shortage in parts of the world.
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure, about 80% of Ukraine’s grain was exported from the ports on the Black Sea before the invasion. Now exports leave the country exclusively via the Danube River, which access became possible after Ukrainian forces recaptured Snake Island from Russian forces in June. Ukraine hopes to accelerate exports via this route.
Ukraine has also accused Russia of stealthily taking stocks and passing them on as Russian grain. According to satellite images reviewed by DailyExpertNews, Russian operators are transporting grain at sea in an apparent attempt to disguise its origin, and merchant ships are turning off their transponders. Russia has repeatedly denied stealing grain or blocking ports.
Some of what would have been Ukrainian products is now in the territory of the Russians and their allies in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). DPR leader Denis Pushilin recently said the wheat harvest there would be much higher than in 2021.
What are the objectives of the conversations?
Specific details have not yet been released. Reuters, however, has spoken with unnamed diplomats who have suggested that elements of the plan under discussion include Ukrainian ships guiding grain ships in and out of mined harbor waters; Russia agrees to ceasefire as shipments move; and Turkey – backed by the United Nations – which inspects ships to allay Russian fears of arms smuggling.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Tuesday emphasized the role of the United Nations in the talks and the need for “a solution that will guarantee the security of the southern regions of our country,” spokesman Oleg Nikolenko told Reuters.
Reporting from Tim Lister, Petro Zadorozhnyy, Vasco Cotovio and Isil Sariyuce