Join our crew and become one of the 106,513 members that receive our newsletter.

Vessels are seen as they await inspection under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, in the southern anchorage of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey December 11, 2022. REUTERS/Yoruk Isik/File Photo

Vessels are seen as they await inspection under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, in the southern anchorage of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey December 11, 2022. REUTERS/Yoruk Isik/File Photo

UK Warns Ships That Russia May Attack

Reuters
Total Views: 13081
July 25, 2023

By Michelle Nichols and Julia Payne (Reuters) – Britain warned on Tuesday that it has information indicating Russia’s military may start to target civilian shipping in the Black Sea, while the European Union pledged to help Ukraine export almost all its farm produce via rail and road.

Global wheat prices have spiked 15% in the past week after Russia quit a deal that allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain for a year and began targeting Ukrainian ports and grain infrastructure on the Black Sea and Danube River.

“Our information indicates that the Russian military may expand their targeting of Ukrainian grain facilities further, to include attacks against civilian shipping in the Black Sea,” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said on Tuesday. 

Also Read: NATO Convoys Can Protect Ukraine’s Grain Says Stavridis

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shared the information with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a phone call on Tuesday, Woodward told reporters. Britain also had information that “Russia has laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports,” she said.

“We agree with the U.S. assessment that this is a coordinated effort to justify and lay blame on Ukraine for any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea,” Woodward said. 

Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House gave similar warnings last week about possible Russian attacks on civilian ships and sea mines. 

Also Read: US Navy Backs Away From Ukraine’s Proposal To Protect Grain In NATO Waters

The Black Sea grain deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey a year ago to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are both leading grain exporters.

Also Read: Russian Drones Attack Danube Grain Terminal

Russia withdrew last week, saying that demands to improve its own food and fertilizer exports had not been met and complaining that not enough Ukrainian grain had reached poor countries under the deal. The U.N. has argued that the pact benefited poorer countries by lowering global prices 23% since March 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to host African leaders in St. Petersburg on Thursday and Friday and has promised free Russian grain “to replace Ukrainian grain.” The U.N. said the most vulnerable will pay the highest price for Moscow’s decision to terminate the Black Sea agreement. 

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told Russian media on Tuesday that 17 African leaders would speak. 

EU ‘SOLIDARITY LANES’

The European Union said on Tuesday it is ready to export almost all of Ukraine’s farm produce via road and rail “solidarity lanes” through neighboring EU countries and help cover transportation costs.

“We are ready to export almost everything. This is about four million tonnes per month of oilseeds and grains and we achieved this volume in November last year,” EU agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said.

Wojciechowski said that the EU was looking to come up with a joint plan to cover the additional transport costs.

Also Read: Planes, Trains & Automobiles Can’t Move Ukraine Grain, Here’s Why

Expanding grain transit through the EU is sensitive for Poland and some countries bordering Ukraine, where farmers have come under pressure from increased Ukrainian imports.

In May, the EU allowed five countries close to Ukraine – Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize and oilseeds until Sept. 15, while allowing transit through them for onward export.

The EU will review the ban after several countries pushed for an extension beyond Sept. 15. 

Polish Agriculture minister Robert Telus told reporters on Tuesday that he wanted a flexible ban, explaining as an example that Poland wanted to prohibit raspberries, but would allow sunflower seeds. 

“There is no way that after Sept. 15 Ukraine grain will enter Poland,” Telus said. “We have quite a lot of grain, prices of grain already today are low … it would completely destabilize our market.” 

EU member Lithuania has asked the European Commission to develop a route for Ukrainian grain through five ports in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The five ports have a combined grain export capacity of 25 million tonnes, the letter said. 

Ukraine and the Baltic States’ railways are built on Russian-type gauge, which is incompatible with the railway gauge used in Poland, the only practical route between the countries.

USAID chief Samantha Power said on Tuesday that Washington would look to invest in additional grain storage for Ukraine so that harvests that could have been shipped via the Black Sea do not rot while waiting to be exported to global markets.

Also Read: NATO Convoys Can Protect Ukraine’s Grain Says Stavridis

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Julia Payne in Brussels; Additional reporting by Geert De Clercq in Paris, Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Nick Macfie and Grant McCool)

Unlock Exclusive Insights Today!

Join the gCaptain Club for curated content, insider opinions, and vibrant community discussions.

Sign Up
Back to Main
polygon icon polygon icon

Why Join the gCaptain Club?

Access exclusive insights, engage in vibrant discussions, and gain perspectives from our CEO.

Sign Up
close

JOIN OUR CREW

Maritime and offshore news trusted by our 106,513 members delivered daily straight to your inbox.

Join Our Crew

Join the 106,513 members that receive our newsletter.