US: Russia's deliberate slowdown of inspections delaying grain shipments from Ukraine

Russia's continued blocking of Ukraine's Black Sea ports and deliberate slowdown of ship inspections are delaying crucial grain shipments around the world, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Jan. 13.

Following Russia's Black Sea blockade of Ukraine's ports in the early days of the full-scale invasion, a U.N-backed deal in July allowed grain shipments to partially resume from some ports.

Since then, Russia has been accused of deliberately holding up inspections to slow down grain shipments in an effort to discredit the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia has also falsely alleged that grain shipments have not made it to countries that need it most.

According to Greenfield, Russia’s attacks and continued blocking of some Ukrainian ports have decreased Ukraine’s food exports by approximately 30 percent.

"Here’s the truth: The Initiative’s operations are not keeping pace with the strong global demand for Black Sea grain. Due to Russia’s deliberate slowdown of inspections, dozens of ships are waiting to depart. And dozens more are waiting for inspections before they can bring their grain cargo to the world," Greenfield said.

The backlog in shipments has left 2.5 million tons of grains "just sitting there, waiting to move, Greenfield also said, "and farmers in Ukraine are waiting plant." Some ships have been waiting for over a month to leave the ports.

The UN-backed Grain Initiative aimed to move five million tons of food per month from Ukraine's ports. According to Greenfield, grain is currently moving at half the rate of the pace back in September and October.

"The world’s hungry deserve nothing less. Today, I’m asking members of the Council to join us in urging Russia to scale up cooperation immediately," Greenfield said.