Financial Times writer Roman Olearchyk reported today that, "Russian forces pummeled the Black Sea port city of Odesa in the early hours of Monday as they continued their months-long campaign…
New York Times writers Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Anatoly Kurmanaev and Vivek Shankar reported on Sunday that, “The United Nations on Sunday awaited a response from Russia on renewing a deal that allows Ukraine to export its grain amid a wartime blockade, a necessity in helping keep global food prices stable.”
Ukraine is ready to continue exporting food. Russia must stop using food as a weapon and playing games with the lives of those who depend on these shipments, and the Black Sea Grain Initiative must be extended, expanded, and fully implemented to benefit people around the world. https://t.co/fU9KzNy7mD— Ambassador Bridget A. Brink (@USAmbKyiv) July 16, 2023
The Times article explained that, “In a bid to answer one of Russia’s key demands before this latest deadline [Monday], the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, sent a letter to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia last week with proposals that would ‘remove hurdles affecting financial transactions’ through Russia’s agricultural bank ‘and simultaneously allow for the continued flow of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea,’ according to a U.N. statement.
“Two days later, Mr. Putin called the deal a ‘one-sided game,’ again threatening to pull out of it because of what he considered unmet conditions, Tass, Russia’s state news agency, reported. ‘We may suspend our participation in this agreement. And if everyone reiterates that all promises given to us will be fulfilled — let them fulfill these promises. And we will immediately join this agreement. Again,’ he said, according to Tass.”
“One cargo ship departed the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Sunday, bound for the Netherlands. The last shipment before that had been Thursday,” the Times article said.
Bigg, Kurmanaev and Shankar added that, “But the volume of grain exported from the Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea has been slowing in recent weeks, according to U.N. data. The same thing happened weeks before the deal’s previous expiration date, in May.”
On Friday, Bloomberg writers Megan Durisin, and Michael Hirtzer reported that, “Wheat and corn futures rose for a second session as uncertainty looms over the Ukraine grain deal nearing its expiration.”
Also Friday, Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported that, “Traders are putting more stock into the idea of Russia stepping away from the Black Sea grain export deal, this after threatening to do so multiple times since the deal was reached a year ago. The agreement is set to expire July 18, and traders are again mulling the possibility of Russia leaving it.”
On Saturday, Bloomberg News reported that, “Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa and sounded a downbeat note on the Black Sea grain deal that expires on Monday.”
On Sunday, Reuters writers Iryna Nazarchuk and Dan Peleschuk reported that, “The last ship to travel under a U.N.-brokered deal that allows the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa early on Sunday ahead of a deadline to extend the agreement, according to a Reuters witness and MarineTraffic.com.
“Russia has not agreed to register any new ships since June 27 and the initiative will expire on Monday unless Moscow agrees to extend it.”
Meanwhile, in its monthly Grain: World Markets and Trade report last week, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) indicated that, “As the 2022/23 trade year (TY) draws to a close, Russia has solidified its standing as the world’s top wheat exporter. With record production of 92.0 million tons, Russia total wheat supply exceeded 100.0 million tons for the first time. With ample supplies, no export restriction for the entire year, and competitive prices, Russia is estimated to export 45.5 million tons in 2022/23. Its primary destinations are in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.”
The FAS update noted that, “Conversely, Ukraine planted area is down significantly as a result of the war with Russia. Production in 2023/24 is forecast at 17.5 million tons, the smallest crop in over a decade. With sharply reduced supplies and uncertainty surrounding the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), 2023/24 Ukraine wheat exports are forecast lower at 10.5 million tons, down over 40 percent from the pre-war average (2016/17-2020/21).
“While the BSGI helped Ukraine export 16.8 million tons of wheat in 2022/23, 39 percent of wheat moved outside of the grain corridor (primarily via land shipments to Eastern Europe). Ukraine export destinations shifted dramatically from Asia and North Africa before the war to primarily Europe during the war, mostly due to ease of shipment and increased demand in some EU member states because of drought.”
On Monday, Reuters writer Michelle Nichols reported that,
A pact that has allowed the safe Black Sea export of grain from Ukraine for the past year will expire at the end of Monday after Russia said it will suspend its participation.
The article stated that, “Russia has officially notified Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations that it is against extending the Black Sea grain export deal, the RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that the Black Sea agreements ceased to be valid today.
“‘Unfortunately, the part of these Black Sea agreements concerning Russia has not been implemented so far, so its effect is terminated,’ he said.”
Also Monday, Bloomberg writer Megan Durisin reported that, “The Ukraine grain-export deal has ended almost a year into its run after Russia terminated the pact, heightening uncertainty over global food supplies and escalating tensions in the region.”
The article noted that, “Benchmark Chicago wheat futures rose as much as 4.2%.”