Ukraine: New Corridor Sees Surge in Ships Taking Grains
The new corridor has enabled Ukraine to ship grains to the rest of the world through ports on the Black Sea despite Russia’s threats and scrutiny. The new route had to be opened after Russia pulled out of the UN and Turkey-brokered agreement allowing cargo ships to sail in the Black Sea.
After canceling the deal, the Russian defense ministry said it would see cargo ships in the Black Sea bound for Ukraine as potential military targets. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the allies had agreed to provide ships to help his country protect commercial vessels in the Black Sea. But he added that air defense it short supply. “But what’s important is that we have agreements, we have a positive signal and the corridor is operational.”
This deterred major grain ships. Ukraine’s new corridor, around the western coast of the Black Sea through Romanian and Bulgarian territorial waters, is protected by the military. This was previously used as a humanitarian corridor
Munro Anderson, head of operations for Vessel Protect, said they are seeing renewed confidence among commercial operators keen to take Ukrainian grain cargoes.
Exporters Optimistic About New Corridor
Ihor Osmachko, general director of Agroprosperis Group, says he is feeling more optimistic than two months ago. He shared that at that time, they were unclear how to survive. Since the company’s first vessel departed in mid-September, it has shipped more than 300,000 metric tons of grain to Egypt, Spain, China, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Tunisia and Turkey.
However, Kelly Goughary, a senior research analyst at Gro Intelligence, believes it’s expensive and time consuming. “The way that they’re transporting right now, it’s certainly much more expensive and time consuming. But they are getting product out of the door, which is better than I think many were anticipating with grain initiative coming to end.”
And farmers are also facing low prices for their grain. This makes sending trucks to Odesa’s often-attacked port not worth the risk for one agricultural company near the front line.
Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Ukraine has struggled to get its food supplies to countries. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of sunflower oil. Ukraine-Russia war caused world food prices to soar and threatened to create shortages in Middle Eastern and African countries. Russian airstrikes on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports destroyed thousands of tonnes of grain.
But Ukraine has been able to overcome this. It exported over 5.6 million metric ton of grain and other products through the new corridor.