The Russian government says it will continue to allow grain shipments out of the Black Sea under an agreement it had earlier said it was withdrawing from. 

All inspections of grain ships had been due to stop on Wednesday because of uncertainty about Russia's plans. 

Quoting the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a tweet Wednesday morning, "The Russian Federation believes that the guarantees received at this time are adequate, thus resumes implementation of the Black Sea Initiative agreement, which had been halted following the terrorist attack in Sevastopol."

Russia had abruptly announced it was suspending its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative on Saturday after claiming that Ukraine attacked Russian ships near the corridor used by commercial ships to transport grain from Odesa, but some trade flow continued through Tuesday.

U.N. and Turkish officials at the Joint Coordination Center, an operations headquarters in Istanbul to regulate the Initiative, inspected 14 outbound and two inbound ships moving through the Bosporus Monday and 36 outbound ships Tuesday, despite the absence of Russia’s participation, said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq.

But all inspection activity had been ordered to stop on Wednesday. The decision was made by Turkish, Ukrainian and U.N. officials in Istanbul Tuesday, but Haq did not give a clear reason as to why.

He said it was “a decision for a one-day halt” that was decided on because officials “thought it was best to do that,” but added that it was unclear if inspections would resume later.

“Well, we’re evaluating the situation as it arises,” Haq said, when pressed by reporters. He said an update would be given Wednesday.

Russia released a statement Monday saying that it is “unacceptable" for ships traversing the Black Sea security corridor.

But those ships full of wheat and corn were effective in helping lower international grain prices over the past three months.

Ukraine has exported roughly 9.7 million metric tons of corn, wheat, vegetable oil and other ag commodities since it signed the Black Sea Grain Initiative with Turkey, Russia and the United Nations on July 22. The extraordinary deal amid an ongoing war allowed Ukraine to ship out of three ports in Odesa and also allowed the World Food Program to source Ukrainian wheat for donation to the Horn of Africa.

One of the two vessels that was cleared Monday to enter the Black Sea was chartered by the WFP.

But even the non-aid shipments are essential to food-insecure people in low-income nations.

“The UN-led Initiative has helped to stabilize and subsequently lower global food prices and move precious grain from one of the world’s breadbaskets to the tables of those in need,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a recent report.

Prices of global food staples dropped by 8.6% in July, 1.9% in August and 1.1% in September, according to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

One of those low-income nations is Tunisia. The third of nine scheduled shipments of Ukrainian grain arrived in Tunisia over the weekend, delivering about 78,000 metric tons of wheat. A ship carrying 30,000 tons of Ukrainian corn was scheduled for delivery Tuesday.

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“The supply from these shipments is expected to cover one-third of monthly import needs of wheat and corn to Tunisia,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric. “These are commercial vessels. They are not humanitarian shipments. In the past months, the Tunisian population faced high inflation and continued shortages of basic food items.”

U.N. officials stressed that they believed Russia has not withdrawn from the Black Sea Grain Initiative — just temporarily suspended participation.

“It was always going to be a rough ride implementing an initiative which brings two warring parties together,” said United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths. “We strongly hold the view that the Black Sea Grain Initiative remains in force, never mind the suspension of participation by the Russians.

And because the Russians are still in the Initiative, they are still bound to their commitment not to attack any commercial ships in the security corridor and that means the grain shipments are safe, said Griffiths.

But companies that provide insurance for those grain shipments may not see it that way.

“Insurers will make their own decision and I have no doubt some of them are,” Griffiths said. “That is why the sooner we can get the full participation of Russia … the better.”

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