On July 30, despite the termination of the grain deal, three foreign-owned civilian cargo ships passed the Russian blockade in the Black Sea and reached one of Ukraine’s grain ports in the Danube Delta.
Source: Forbes US / Illustrative image: U.S. NAVY
Ships owned by Greek, Israeli and Turkish-Georgian companies arrived at a Ukrainian port
It is reported that three cargo ships owned by Greek, Israeli and Turkish-Georgian companies arrived at one of the Ukrainian grain terminals in the port of Izmail in the Danube Delta.
They were the first foreign vessels to dock at Ukrainian ports after Russia withdrew from the grain deal and threatened foreign ships if they continue arriving at Ukrainian ports.
According to Forbes, the Greek and Israeli vessels were sailing towards the port of Izmail from the Bosphorus, while the Turkish-Georgian vessel was sailing from northern Turkey. They were sailing with their transponders switched on, making no secret of their course.
Ships were observed by four NATO reconnaissance aircraft
The ships were observed by four NATO reconnaissance aircraft: a US Navy P-8 patrol aircraft, a military Challenger with surface scanning radar, a US Air Force RQ-4 drone and a NATO E-3 early warning aircraft.
According to journalists, the planes were unarmed, but NATO fighters, including Italian Eurofighters and Romanian F-16s, were on duty in Romania at the time.
“Reports that the three civilian vessels reached Ukraine unhindered may indicate that Russia is either unwilling or unable to search the ships at this time,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) commented.
Forbes notes that the ships that arrived in the Ukrainian port will be loaded with grain, after which they will return on the same route.
Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal: international reactions
On July 16, the last ship loaded with Ukrainian agricultural products under the initiative left the port of Odesa. On July 17, Russia announced the termination of the grain deal.
In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was necessary to continue using the grain corridor despite Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement. At the same time, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba began urgent consultations at the UN.
The White House condemned Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal, which played a crucial role in reducing global food prices.
On July 18, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were “certain risks” for parties trying to resume the Black Sea Grain Initiative without Russia’s participation.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that it was critical to restore transport links across the Black Sea to provide food to the world’s most vulnerable countries and to preserve the ability to export Ukrainian goods.
On July 19, it was reported that Ukraine was considering transporting food as part of the grain initiative through the territorial waters of Bulgaria and neighbouring Romania.
At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement threatening ships heading to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
July 21 Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he wants to discuss the extension of the grain deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and expresses confidence that it will work again.
On July 22, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with a proposal to immediately convene a NATO-Ukraine council due to the security crisis in the Black Sea.
Zelenskyy and Stoltenberg discussed the implementation of the agreements reached during the Vilnius Summit of the Alliance, as well as further steps towards Ukraine’s integration into NATO.
On July 25, Ukrainian Military Intelligence published a report to the Russian leadership outlining the technologies used by the Russians to prevent the export of Ukrainian grain, indicating a deliberate disruption of the grain deal.
On July 26, the UK Ministry of Defence reported that Russia had deployed a modern corvette, the Sergei Kotov, in the southern Black Sea to intercept merchant ships at sea. It is patrolling the shipping route between the Bosphorus and Odesa.
Later, it was reported that Russia was preparing aircraft and ships to block the Black Sea and detect and destroy ships.