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War in Ukraine: grain exports remain risky

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Status: 01.08.2022 04:01

The grain supply from Ukraine continues to face enormous difficulties. Russia’s war makes navigation almost impossible. Nevertheless, convoys should leave soon.

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 sail, it can be seen from here, he says. “We see the harbor there, the lighthouse and usually you can see the ships as they leave. 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, together with other volunteers, he takes care of the Ukrainian army and people in need, both near the front and in his hometown of Chornomorsk. “Berlin” is written on his black baseball cap.

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

A spokesman for Turkish President Erdogan said on Sunday it was likely the first cargo ships could leave on Monday morning. 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. In order to protect the south from Russian attacks, Ukraine mined ports early in the war – and now must ensure safe corridors.

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 Cherson region So I know how it works and it’s a difficult thing now, because the port has been mined Everything is very difficult – if they have made the corridor for the ships and really offer them security, they can leave. This is very, very important for Ukraine.”

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. Meanwhile, Ukrainian ports should not 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 Iskande missiles hit another quarry in Odessa. The Odessa city council reports that the Ukrainian army has been cut down by the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea annexed by Russia.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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