Ship Odesa

Hunger Looming in Africa as Last Grain Ship Leaves Ukraine

According to data from the MarineTraffic website, the last ship to sail under the Ukraine grain export deal departed from the Black Sea port of Odesa just one day before the extension deadline. The Turkish-flagged ship, TQ Samsun, reportedly left Odesa on Sunday and is headed for Istanbul, Turkey. The Reuters news agency has also confirmed this information.

The grain export deal was established in 2022 amid concerns about global food shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The agreement allowed Ukraine to export its grain, with Russia among the world’s top grain exporters. However, Russia has refused to extend the deal unless its demands regarding its own grain and fertilizers are met.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that commitments to remove obstacles to Moscow’s food exports and other key provisions have not been fulfilled, suggesting that Russia may suspend its participation in the agreement. Putin expressed this during a phone call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, stating that the main goal of the deal, which was the supply of grain to countries in need, has not been achieved.

Russia has also demanded the reconnection of its agricultural payments bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the global Swift payment network. However, earlier this year, the European Union stated that it was not considering reinstating Russian banks that were previously sanctioned due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed confidence that the deal would be extended after speaking with Putin. The agreement is typically extended for 120-day periods, but in March and May 2023, Russia agreed to only 60-day extensions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held urgent talks with UN Secretary-General António Guterres prior to the last extension. Zelensky emphasized Ukraine’s interest in ensuring there is no hunger in the world.

Under the grain export deal, more than 30 million metric tons of grain and other food products have been shipped from Ukraine, creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea. The UN states that 47% of Ukraine’s grain has gone to high-income countries, 26% to upper-middle-income countries, and 27% to low- and lower-middle-income countries. The UN highlights that the deal has benefited people worldwide by increasing food availability and reducing global prices.