Putin Is Reportedly Blocking Food Shipments

In May, Russia agreed to extend the Sea Grain Initiative for 60 days. Yet, the United Kingdom government said it’s still “likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin is blocking at least some vessels that are trying to leave ports in Ukraine.

Last Friday, the British Ministry of Defence said that Putin is only allowing about one or two ships to be expected each day. That information was included in a statement that was posted on Twitter as well as the website for the British government.

As the statement reads:

“The Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) was extended by 60 days on 17 May 2023. However, Russia almost certainly continues to hinder grain exports by deliberately slowing inspections and actively blocking some vessels. Currently, only one or two ships are being inspected per day, compared with six to eight in Autumn 2022.”

The United Nations got into the act late last week as well, with a spokesperson for the organization issuing a statement saying they were trying to undertake efforts that would boost exports of food and fertilizers from Russia. This is being done because Russia is threatening to not further extend the BSGI after its current expiration date in July.

One of the ways that they are trying to convince Russia to allow grain from Ukraine to leave through the Black Sea ports is to allow Russia to boost its own exports of produce. Technically speaking, this produce isn’t subject to the sanctions that many Western countries have put in place on Russia ever since the invasion began in February of 2022.

Despite these concessions, Russia is insisting that more needs to be done to ease the sanctions that are affecting not just the logistics for its produce to be sent overseas, but also for insurance and payments.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the United Nations, said that “tangible progress” in those talks has been made over the last few months. He further said:

“Challenges remain, but we will spare no effort to overcome all remaining obstacles.”

At the same time that the UN is trying to encourage Russia to extend the BSGI even further, defense officials in the UK are saying that Russia might be trying to force other concessions, such as the re-opening of a pipeline that transports ammonia directly through Ukraine.

The British MOD said in its statement:

“Russia is likely attempting to force concessions on the re-opening of the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline, which exports ammonia from Russia through Ukraine, via Odesa. To complicate this situation, in recent days, the pipeline was damaged and is not currently operational.”

Intelligence officials in the UK also said they believe that Russia is likely to institute new “Russian rhetoric and obstruction” in the lead-up to the next deadline to extend the BSGI further, which is July 16.

That’s only about one month away at this point, which is not that far off when you’re talking about negotiating with a communist country, especially one that is at war.