Russia: Indefinite Suspension of Participation in Black Sea Grain Initiative

In response to a 29 October 2022 attack on Russian Naval assets located in a naval base on the occupied Ukrainian territory of Sevastopol (UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262), Russia declared it will suspend its implementation of the (previously reported) Black Sea Grain Initiative with immediate effect for an indefinite period on the basis “the Russian side can no longer guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative”. According to the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), “The Russian Federation delegation also expressed its readiness to cooperate remotely on issues that require immediate decision by the JCC”. No agreement on vessel movements in the corridor was reached for 30 October 2022, but, in order to continue fulfilling the Initiative, “it was proposed that the Turkish and United Nations delegations provide [31 October 2022] 10 inspection teams aiming to inspect 40 outbound vessels”, an inspection plan accepted by the Ukraine delegation and informed to the Russian Federation. The “Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations delegations agreed on a movement plan for [31 October 2022] for the maritime humanitarian corridor of 16 vessels, 12 outbound and 4 inbound”. The Russian delegation was informed of said movement plans. Among others, the UN Secretary General and Türkiye issued statements in response to the Russian suspension of its participation, the latter suggesting one consequence will be “during this period, there will be no ship exits from Ukraine”.

Earlier, on 20 October 2022, UNCTAD had reported on the contributions of the Black Sea Initiative to global food security. In the week before Russia’s suspension of participation, the JCC had reported on 24 October 2022 on delays and disruptions that had resulted in a backlog of vessels waiting in the territorial waters of Türkiye. A statement by Ukraine attributed these delays to the actions of Russia concerning inspections, while a Russian statement attributed delays to “an artificial traffic jam has been created in the port of Istanbul”.

For further information see the below map of the Black Sea Grain Initiative Shipping Route (25 August 2022) produced by the JCC (Sevastopol is not visible on the map as it lies eastward of the eastern boundary of the map).

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