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Russia Fires Warning Shots at Black Sea Merchant Ship, as “Ukraine’s Grain Harvest This Year is Exceeding Expectations”

Reuters writer Guy Faulconbridge reported yesterday that, “A Russian warship on Sunday fired warning shots at a cargo ship in the southwestern Black Sea as it made its way northwards, the first time Russia has fired on merchant shipping beyond Ukraine since exiting a landmark UN-brokered grain deal last month.”

The article indicated that, “On Sunday, Russia said in a statement that its Vasily Bykov patrol ship had fired automatic weapons on the Palau-flagged Sukru Okan vessel after the ship’s captain failed to respond to a request to halt for an inspection.”

Reuters News reported today that, “Ukraine on Monday condemned what it called ‘provocative’ Russian actions and called for decisive countermeasures by the international community, a day after Moscow said one of its warships fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea.”

“The incident cast a pall over plans for a ‘humanitarian corridor’ in the Black Sea to release cargo ships trapped in Ukraine’s ports since the outbreak of war,” the article said.

Bloomberg writers Aine Quinn, Beril Akman, and Keira Wright reported today that, “Wheat futures advanced after Russia fired on a cargo vessel over the weekend in the Black Sea to stop the ship for checks, adding to uncertainties over crop deliveries from the region.

“Wheat Edges Higher After Provocations on Black Sea Cargo Ship,” by Aine Quinn, Beril Akman, and Keira Wright. Bloomberg News (August 14, 2023).

“The dry freight carrier had been heading to the Ukrainian port of Izmail when a Russian naval patrol ship opened fire after the ship’s operators didn’t respond to a request for inspection, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. The vessel was then allowed to resume its trip, the ministry said, without elaborating what cargo — if any — it was carrying.”

The Bloomberg writers also pointed out that,

On Friday, the US Department of Agriculture raised its estimate for Russian wheat exports to 48 million metric tons for the 2023-24 season. That means almost a quarter of the world’s wheat trade will now come from Russia.

And Reuters writer Naveen Thukral reported today that, “Chicago wheat bounced back on Monday as a Russian warship’s firing of warning shots at a cargo ship in the Black Sea region heightened concerns over world supplies.”

Meanwhile, Washington Post writers David L. Stern and Loveday Morris reported in Sunday’s paper that, “Under a deal brokered by the European Union, Poland and four other neighboring countries are allowed to ban Ukrainian grain imports to protect their domestic farmers, but allow the grain to cross their territory into other countries. The agreement is set to expire on Sept. 15, but [Marcin Przydacz, a foreign policy adviser to Polish President Andrzej  Duda] and other Polish officials have called for extending the restrictions.

The Washington Post (Page A9 – August 13, 2023).

“‘Ukraine really got a lot of support from Poland,’ Przydacz said in an interview with Polish radio in late July. ‘What is most important today is defending the interest of the Polish farmer.’

Grain sales are an acute, if not existential, issue for Kyiv after Russia stepped up bombing of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports last month, cutting the main export routes to global markets.”

Elsewhere, in its monthly Grain: World Markets and Trade report on Friday, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service indicated that, “Just under a year since its inception, on July 17, 2023, Russia withdrew its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI). The ‘grain deal’ brokered by Turkey and the United Nations allowed Ukraine to export nearly 33.0 million tons of grain and other agricultural products from its ports in Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Yuzhny. Grain was the primary commodity exported under the agreement, with 8.9 million tons of wheat and 16.9 million tons of corn comprising most of the volume. Corn was primarily destined for China and the European Union, whereas wheat was exported to a wider range of countries including Turkey, Bangladesh, Egypt, and the European Union. For the entirety of MY 2022/23 across all transportation routes, USDA estimates that Ukraine exported 16.8 million tons of wheat (Jul-Jun) and forecasts corn exports at 28.0 million tons (Oct-Sep).

Grain: World Markets and Trade. USDA- Foreign Agricultural Service (August 11, 2023).

In MY 2023/24, combined wheat and corn production in Ukraine is forecast to be the same as the previous year, though beginning stocks are expected to fall considerably to more normal levels. As a result, exports are anticipated to fall to 10.5 million tons of wheat and 19.5 million tons of corn.”

Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported today that, “Ukraine’s grain exports have totalled 3.12 million metric tons so far in the 2023/24 July-June season, Agriculture Ministry data showed on Monday.

“The ministry gave no comparative figures for the same date a year earlier but said the shipments were at 2.65 million tons as of Aug. 15, 2022.”

And on Saturday, Reuters News indicated that, “Ukraine’s grain harvest this year is exceeding expectations and could be 5% higher than in 2022 thanks to favourable weather, a senior agriculture ministry official said on Saturday.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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