Israeli vessel breaks through Moscow’s Black Sea grain blockade – report

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An Israeli merchant ship that embarked from the Port of Ashdod Monday became the first vessel to openly defy Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea since they pulled out of a deal with Ukraine allowing the country to export grain from its ports in mid-July, Ukrainian news outlet Militarnyi reported on Monday.

Israeli vessel Ams1 seemingly ignored Russian threats and entered the Ukrainian branch of the Danube Monday afternoon, according to Ukrainian reports. It crossed the Black Sea on a direct route from Ashdod Port while the American aircraft P8 Poseidon provided aerial security, the reports added.

Ams1 was followed by four more vessels that have either anchored or will anchor in the Danube shortly.

Russia stepped away from the agreement in mid-July, arguing that demands to improve its own food and fertilizer exports had not been met and that not enough Ukrainian grain had reached the poorest countries under the Black Sea deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a statement at a the final day of the Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 28, 2023. (credit: Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency via REUTERS)

Moscow’s Black Sea blockade

The Black Sea grain deal that Russia withdrew from two weeks ago was brokered by the UN and Turkey a year before in an effort to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are among the largest grain exporters in the world.

Since Russia quit the deal and began attacking Ukrainian food-exporting ports on the Black Sea and Danube River, global wheat and corn futures have risen sharply.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had written to Putin on July 11 in a final effort to save the deal. He proposed Russia extend the agreement – with a daily limit of four ships traveling to Ukraine and four ships leaving – in return for connecting a subsidiary of Russia’s Agricultural Bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the SWIFT global payments system.

“With the termination of the Black Sea Initiative, the most vulnerable will pay the highest price,” Guterres told the UN Food Systems summit in Rome in late July. “When food prices rise, everybody pays for it.”

African leaders pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to renew the deal on the safe wartime export of Ukrainian grain at a Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg on Friday.

Source: JP

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