The inspection of grain ships entering and leaving the Black Sea is set to resume Thursday now that Russia has resumed participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative and that is allowing the United Nations to focus on preventing the expiration of the agreement in a little over two weeks.
Russia announced Wednesday morning that it would resume its role in the Initiative following intense dialogue between UN, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian officials. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he spoke directly to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu Wednesday evening.
The Initiative’s Joint Coordination Center decided Tuesday to pause inspections of inbound and outbound grain shipments moving through the Bosporus Strait for at least Wednesday. Those inspections will resume Thursday, confirmed UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“I welcome the return of the Russian Federation to the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertilizer from Ukraine,” Amir Abdulla, the UN coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative, said in a tweet Wednesday. “Grateful for the Turkish facilitation. Looking forward to working again with all parties in the Initiative.”
Dujarric said Russia made no conditions for resuming its role in the agreement that allows Ukraine to export wheat, corn, barley, vegetable oil and other commodities from three Odesa ports amid the ongoing war. Russia suspended its participation in the agreement Saturday after claiming Ukraine broke the rules of the deal when it attacked Russian ships near the security corridor for grain shipments.
The UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative with Ukraine, Russia and Turkey is a 120-day deal and UN officials say they are working hard to get an extension before it expires on Nov. 19.
“We very much hope that the deal will be renewed (and) fully implemented,” Dujarric said.
Even before Russia resumed its participation in the Black Sea Initiative Wednesday, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said he remained optimistic that the deal will be extended.