In the Black Sea, inspections of ships with Ukrainian grain, stopped due to Russian opposition, will resume, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook. An agreement on this was reached at a meeting with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, which took place in Istanbul.
The resumption of inspections was confirmed in an interview with RIA Novosti by the press secretary of the UN deal coordinator Ismini Palla. According to Kubrakov, on April 10, Russia stopped the registration of ships participating in the grain deal and refused to work according to the plans of Ukrainian ports, which made it impossible to inspect ships, which is carried out in Turkish territorial waters.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that difficulties with registering ships and conducting inspections arise "exclusively as a result of the actions of Ukrainian representatives, as well as UN members, who, apparently, do not want or cannot resist them." Zakharova claims that the Ukrainian side is trying to extract the maximum profit from the grain deal, in particular, demanding bribes from shipowners:
“Owners of incoming ships who refused to pay a bribe are forced to stand idle waiting for registration for more than one month. Dry cargo ships leaving, from which the Ukrainians have already received money and have lost interest in them, also have to wait for the inspection.”
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said on April 17 that Russia was blocking 50 ships with Ukrainian grain intended for export in the Black Sea.
The grain deal, which Russia and Ukraine concluded in July 2022 with the mediation of the UN and Turkey, involves the export of Ukrainian grain, food and fertilizer from three ports, including Odessa. Vessel traffic is regulated by the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul. On March 18, 2023, Russia announced that it had extended the deal by 60 days, until May 18. Ukraine claims that the deal has been extended for 120 days.