An aerial view shows ships at the anchorage area of the Bosphorus southern entrance in Istanbul, on October 12, 2022.
Yasin Akgul | AFP | Getty Images
UNITED NATIONS – The basic food security of tens of millions across the globe hung by a thread this week as the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine desperately worked to preserve a deal that has permitted Ukrainian grain to move through the Black Sea.
Before Moscow’s full-scale invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor, Ukraine and Russia accounted for almost a quarter of global grain exports, until those shipments came to a severe halt for nearly six months.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports. The agreement to create the sea corridor was negotiated by representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the U.N. and Turkey in July.
The first vessel left Ukraine’s port of Odesa on Aug. 1, carrying more than 26,000 metric tons of corn. Since then, more than 400 ships carrying 10 million metric tons of agricultural products have departed from war-weary Ukraine’s ports.
Last week, Moscow suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative citing retaliation for what it called Kyiv’s “act of terrorism” against Russian warships. Russia rejoined the humanitarian agreement on Wednesday — but with the caveat that the Kremlin may decline to renew the deal, which is set to expire in two weeks.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Russia’s decision to rejoin the agreement, which has helped to address the mounting food crisis.
“The initiative is working,” Guterres said, adding that the signatories of the deal must now work to renew it.
“I’m not optimistic. I’m not pessimistic. I’m determined. And we must all be determined to do whatever is necessary in order to make sure that we have the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” Guterres told reporters at the United Nations in New York.