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Amid potential threats from Russian warplanes and sea mines, Ukraine has temporarily suspended its new Black Sea grain export corridor, according to reports from the Kyiv-based Barva Invest and a British security firm.
Barva Invest said in a statement, “We would like to inform you of a temporary suspension of vessel traffic to and from (the ports). The current ban is in force on October 26, but it is possible that it will be extended.” The temporary halt led to a noticeable shift in the Chicago wheat futures, a global price benchmark, which bounced back by about 1% after an initial dip.
The Barva consultancy, focused on Ukraine’s agricultural sector, highlighted that Kyiv’s military had effectively initiated this suspension due to heightened Russian air force activities nearby. Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of Russian warplanes armed with Kinzhal missiles to patrol the Black Sea. British maritime security company Ambrey provided further evidence, sharing a communication from the Ukrainian Seaport Authority, which indicated that there would be no vessel movement along the corridor on October 26, 2023. Ambrey further revealed, “On October 25, … the Russian Air Force had dropped at least four objects, likely acoustic and/or magnetic sea mines, into the Ukrainian grain corridor transit area near Snake Island, Ukraine.”
This “humanitarian corridor,” operational since August, was devised by Ukraine to sidestep a de facto blockade in the Black Sea. It became essential after Russia abandoned an agreement guaranteeing Kyiv’s maritime exports amid the war. Starting from Ukraine’s southwest Black Sea coast, the corridor extends into Romanian territorial waters and proceeds to Turkey.
Since its inception, approximately 700,000 tons of grain have been exported via this route. Ukrainian officials also reported that over 40 cargo vessels have utilized this corridor, transporting around 1.5 million metric tons of goods, predominantly grain, oilseed, and various meals.
The potential of this new corridor was underscored this week when Ukrainian agricultural producers hinted that it might enable monthly exports of up to 2.5 million tons of food, nearly balancing out the effects of Russia’s withdrawal from the previous UN agreement.