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War in Ukraine: grain exports remain risky

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Status: 01.08.2022 04:01

The delivery of grain from Ukraine continues to face enormous difficulties. Russia’s war makes navigation almost impossible. Nevertheless, several convoys must leave today.

By Andrea Beer, ARD Studio Moscow, currently Odessa

Yevheni stands on the beach of the small town of Chornomorsk and looks along the shore towards the port. “When the ships are sailing, you can see it well from here,” he says. “We see the harbor there, the lighthouse, and you usually see ships leaving. Where the cranes are, they usually leave – now you can’t see anything.”

Yevheni is 26 years old and currently works in the marketing industry. Now, with other volunteers, he takes care of the Ukrainian army and people in need, near the front, but also in his hometown of Chornomorsk. “Berlin” is written on his black baseball cap.

Access to the sea blocked

The small cafe is open, but the long, bright sandy beach is empty and green weeds are growing. Access to the sea is blocked with NATO wires. And such a thread was also unwound directly on the deep blue water. Entry and swimming are strictly prohibited, every few meters red mine signs warn of mortal danger in the water. A few walkers on the beach still have strangely wet hair.

The first freighters are due to leave today

A spokesman for Turkish President Erdogan said on Sunday it was likely the first freighters could set sail today. It is not yet officially known from the Ukrainian side when the convoy with the first 16 grain carriers will leave the relevant Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

From the Ukrainian point of view, exporting involves high risks. Danger hangs over the incalculable Russian rocket attacks and Moscow warships in the Black Sea. Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky said on Sunday that Russia is capable of anything: “It is clear that we are exporting under difficult conditions, but there is no other option,” he says .

The first planned convoy of ships with nearly 600,000 tons of grain will travel about 320 nautical miles from Odessa to Istanbul, or about 600 kilometers. It is monitored from the Istanbul control center. Online – with drones and via satellite. To protect the south from Russian attacks, Ukraine mined ports early in the war – and now must ensure safe corridors.

High risk and expensive insurance

Dmytro Bodnariuk from Odessa knows the oceans like the back of his hand and assesses the situation as follows: “I worked as a captain for many years, and in November 2019 I brought grain from Ukraine to China from the region of Kherson. So I know how it is, and now it is a difficult thing, because the port was mined. Everything is very difficult – if they made the corridor for the ships and really provide them with security, they can leave. It’s very good for Ukraine, very important.”

Because of the risks, insurance is all the more expensive. According to Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky, the amount has been agreed. Tariffs were initially more expensive as many companies and shipowners waited to see how the first exports were going, Solsky told Ukrainian news agency “Ukrinform”.

Politicians, insurance companies, shipping companies, foreign and Ukrainian grain trading companies or Ukrainian farmers – all count on success.

“Let’s go a little further,” said Yevheni, strolling along the beach in Chornomorsk. The basis for the export is a Ukrainian-Russian agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. During this time, Ukrainian ports were not supposed to be attacked, but a day later rockets hit the port of Odessa.

“There you can see Odessa, the houses, the church and where the rockets hit, we saw everything from here,” Yevheni says. On Sunday evening, two Iskander missiles hit another quarry in Odessa. The Odessa City Council said they were shot by Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia.

Ukraine: Waiting for grain exports

Andrea Beer, ARD Moscow, August 1, 2022 7:57 a.m.

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Source www.tagesschau.de

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