News From Ukraine: Putin’s second attempt at blackmailing Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin is questioning Ukraine’s ships moving through the grain corridor. Experts call it another attempt to blackmail the country.

We want to take the time to check in on farmers in Ukraine as harvest in the country continues. Today, we are learning more about the movement of ships through the grain corridor, which has been called into question by Russia.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

On September 20th, the bulk carrier, SSI Pride, loaded with 1.7 million bushels of feed wheat, departed the Ukrainian port of Odesa. The ship is bound for Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in South Asia. This is the first ship sent by Tas Agro via the grain corridor.

Anton Zhemerdieiev, Tas Agro Commercial Director, says, “After opening the grain corridor, we started negotiations with port terminals on grain shipments. In just one month, we loaded the first vessel in the history of our company panamax SSI Pride. We loaded our own wheat, which was grown in our fields. The cargo sailed from the Odesa Port to the South Asia country, Bangladesh. The war in Ukraine challenged global food security. The issue of which is now particularly acute for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. They are threatened with famine and crisis. For example, in Bangladesh, 40 million people remain without food and 11 million are already suffering from acute hunger.”

Along with this, Ukraine decided to provide 1.8 million bushels of wheat and humanitarian aid to two African countries, Ethiopia and Somalia. This enraged Russian president, Vladimir Putin very much. He recently announced that Ukraine had cheated everyone because only two ships out of 87 went via the so-called grain corridor to the poorest countries. The rest, according to Putin, were sent to Ukraine by European Union countries. Putin implied that the export of grain from Ukraine should be restricted again.

We decided to fact-check Putin’s words. One can easily check where the grain is actually going by looking at the UN website. At the time of the Russian president’s statement, at least 15 ships had departed for Africa and Southeast Asia. Indeed many ships went to Europe, but the reason is that when the war broke out, the ships in Ukrainian ports were primarily loaded with corn. It is used to produce feed.

How did Putin come up with such amazing calculations? Olga Trofimtseva, Ambassador-At-Large for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is convinced this is yet another attempt to blackmail Ukraine.

“This is an attempt of pressure. This is another attempt to use the grain agreement and the functioning grain corridor, which already enabled exports of more than 3 million tons of grain, and most of it was exported to Africa and Asia, not only to European countries. This is perhaps an instrument of blackmail. This is what Putin and Russia were doing all along,” said Trofimtseva.

Olga Trofimtseva also notes that because of bureaucratic procedures, sending ships with UN support is not too fast, even in a situation when there is an understanding that it is necessary to respond to the challenges opposed by food insecurity in Africa. These bureaucratic procedures are still moving rather slowly. The grain corridor is not only in the interest of Ukraine but also in the interest of the world as a whole. After all, its prolongation stabilizes and moderates grain prices.

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