Ukraine says Russia is blocking the operation of the Black Sea grain port

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine accused Russia on Tuesday of effectively cutting the Ukrainian port of Bivdenye from a deal allowing safe grain exports in the Black Sea, as Russia complained it could not export ammonia via a pipeline to Bivdenye under the deal. .

The Black Sea deal — which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July and extended last week for two months — covers wartime exports of food and fertilizer from the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pevdenny.

On Monday, the United Nations expressed concern that Bivdeni had not received any ships since May 2 under the agreement.

Ukraine’s deputy minister for renewal, Yury Vaskov, accused Russia of a “flagrant violation” of the agreement. All ships are being checked by a joint team of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations inspectors, but Vaskov said Russian inspectors have refused to inspect ships bound for Pevdene since April 29.

“They (Russia) have now found an effective way to significantly reduce (Ukrainian) grain exports by excluding from the initiative the port of Pivdenye, which handles large tonnage vessels,” Vaskov said in written comments on Tuesday.

Pivdennyi is the largest outlet included in the deal in terms of throughput. Data from the Ministry of Restoration shows that it stores about 1.5 million tons of food for future export to 10 countries, and 26 ships are scheduled to come to it.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday that Russia’s actions were a “clear violation of its obligations” under the grain deal, calling on Moscow to “stop holding the world’s food supply hostage.”

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The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Miller’s comments.

ammonia

The Black Sea grain deal was agreed to help tackle a global food crisis exacerbated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The deal also includes ammonia, which Russia transported to Bevdenye via an export pipeline before the war.

Russia has threatened not to renew the Black Sea Agreement unless a list of demands on its food and fertilizer exports are met. Restarting the ammonia pipeline is one of those demands the United Nations is trying to mediate.

Russia used to pump up to 2.5 million tons of ammonia annually for export through the pipeline from Togliatti. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia said on Tuesday that the amount of ammonia can “produce 7 million tons of fertilizer”.

He told the UN Security Council that “this amount of fertilizer would allow the production of enough food to supply 200 million people. Deliveries were supposed to start at the same time as those of Ukrainian food. But this never happened.”

“The ammonia deficit in global markets is 70% due to shortages,” Nebenzia said.

A Ukrainian government source told Reuters on Friday that Kiev would consider allowing Russian ammonia to cross its territory for export if the Black Sea grain deal is expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of commodities.

The company’s CEO said Uralchem, Russia’s largest producer of ammonium nitrate and potash, expects to open an ammonia export terminal near the Black Sea to make the pipeline through Ukraine much less important.

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While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have posed a barrier to shipments.

Ukraine has accused Moscow of slowing down inspections of ships under the Black Sea deal, which Russia denies.

“It’s not working as it should. Russia continues to slow it down as much as possible,” Vaskov said.

According to UN data, more than 30 million tons of food products have been exported so far under the Black Sea Agreement.

(Reporting by Pavel Politiuk; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Barbara Lewis

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