Ukraine war: Last grain ship leaves Odessa as contract deadline expires

  • By Jaroslav Lukiv
  • BBC News

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More than 30 million tons of grain and other food products have left Ukraine under the July 2022 deal.

The last ship to sail under a deal that allows Ukraine to export its grain left the country’s Black Sea port of Odesa a day before the extension deadline, according to a marine traffic data base.

It says TQ Samson left on Sunday – a claim backed by Reuters news agency.

Russia has not agreed to extend the UN-brokered agreement until its demands on its own grain and fertilizers are met.

The 2022 deal was struck amid fears of global food shortages after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Both Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.

MarineTraffic says the Turkish-flagged vessel left Odessa shortly after 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and was heading south to the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Ukraine has not yet publicly commented on the issue.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said pledges to remove sanctions on Moscow’s own food exports and other key provisions had not been met, signaling that Moscow may end its participation in the deal.

“The main goal of this agreement, which is to deliver grain to countries in need, including on the African continent, has not been implemented,” the Kremlin chief told South African President Cyril Ramaphosa by phone.

Moscow wants its Rosselkhozbank — the bank that handles agricultural payments — to be reconnected to the global SWIFT payment network.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped the deal would be extended again after speaking with Mr Putin.

The agreement was supposed to be extended for 120 days at a time, but in March and May 2023, Russia agreed to extend it by only 60 days.

Days before the last extension, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held emergency talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“We are passionate about making sure there is no hunger in the world,” Mr Zelensky said.

Ukrainian exports by sea from the country’s Black Sea ports were initially blocked by Russian warships following the invasion in February 2022.

More than 30 million tons of grain and other food have left Ukraine under the deal, which provides a safe passage across the Black Sea.

  • 47% of Ukraine’s grain went to “high income countries” including Spain and Italy.
  • 26% for “upper-middle income countries” such as Turkey and China
  • 27% for “low- and lower-middle-income countries” such as Egypt and Sudan

Mr Putin has criticized Ukraine for not exporting much to developing countries.

But the grain deal has benefited people around the world because it has brought more food to the world market and therefore lowered global prices.

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