The United Nations was quick to applaud a deal struck in mid-May to keep the Black Sea Grain Initiative from imploding under Russian pressure, but about two weeks later Moscow is again blocking vessel access to Ukrainian ports amid talks to clear an obstacle to Russian ammonia exports.

The Joint Coordination Center – an operation manned by Turkish, Ukrainian, Russian and UN officials that clears vessels from entering and leaving the Black Sea – was only able to inspect one incoming ship Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Ukrainian officials. 

Furthermore, says Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, the JCC has been unable to develop its June inspection plan because of Russian interference.

Meanwhile, there are 50 vessels waiting in Turkish waters for inspection that have been unable to pass through the Bosporus Strait to load about 2.4 million metric tons of corn, wheat and other ag commodities, according to the Ukrainian Agri Council. Those 50 vessels are meant to be delivering grain to customers in Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China.

Another apparent move by Moscow to hinder the Black Sea Grain Initiative is blockage of activity at the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi.

The JCC confirmed Friday that vessels are loading at the Ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk, but there is no activity at the Port of Pivdennyi, the third covered under the Initiative.

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

Pivdennyi, which also goes by the alternative name Yuzhny, is also at the heart of Russian demands for its fertilizer exports and an ongoing point of contention in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Before the war, Russia would send ammonia through the pipeline to Pivdennyi, where it would be transferred to tanker ships and exported around the world. The pipeline was shut down after the invasion began, but Russia is demanding that it be reopened and UN officials say they are working to make that happen.

“The UN is working with the parties to pursue the predictable and stable operations of exports, including shipments of ammonia out of Ukraine, UN Coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative Abdullah Dashti told the League of Arab States this week.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed this week that Secretary-General António Guterres is proposing a resumption of Russian ammonia through the pipeline.

“Those conversations and contacts are continuing, but that’s as much as I’ll say right now,” Dujarric said.

 For more news, go to