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26 Aug - Procedures for safe export of foodstuffs etc. from Ukrainian ports

Published: 01 September 2022

On 22 July 2022, Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations signed the Initiative on the safe export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from Ukrainian ports. The purpose of this Initiative is to facilitate the safe navigation for the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia from the Ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk (Chornomorsk) and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi) (the Ukrainian ports).

Since the 24 February escalation of the war in Ukraine, the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine has been negatively impacted, something which in turn has threatened supplies to several developing countries desperately reliant on import of food stocks from Ukraine.

However, on 22 Jul 2022, Türkiye, Russia, and Ukraine together with the United Nations signed the Initiative on the safe export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from Ukrainian ports. The purpose of this Initiative is to facilitate the safe navigation for the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia from the Ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk (Chornomorsk) and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi) (the Ukrainian ports).

International coordination

The operational execution of the initiative will be coordinated by a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul where representatives of Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations will oversee and coordinate the operation. The warring parties have agreed not to attack any of the merchant ships taking part in this initiative.

A set of procedures for merchant vessels taking part in the initiative have been developed, a copy of which can be found via the link below. The procedures must be followed by all ships taking part in the initiative.

A high-risk operation

The initiation of exports from Ukraine-controlled ports is a welcome development but there is no question that the resumption of shipping operations is a high-risk endeavour. While both Russia and Ukraine have publicly promised not to attack ships involved in the initiative, there have been several sightings of mine-like objects in the area, and the risk of a rogue mine detonating against a ship is still present. Add to this that the perceived mine threat provides for plausible deniability for any malign actor with a motive to disrupt global food supplies, especially by means of underwater weapons such as limpet mines or torpedoes. The resultant security situation amounts to something which by any measure will be a high-risk operation.

Ship protection measures

Ships getting involved in this initiative are encouraged to perform a voyage-specific risk assessment and consider the relevant self-protection measures described in chapter 4 incl. annexes in the NATO publication Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) – Guide to Owners, Operators, Masters and Officers.

It should be noted that the NATO procedures for passage coordination etc. described in this NATO publication DO NOT apply to this scenario. Instead, the procedures outlined in the specific guidance developed by Türkiye, Russia, and Ukraine together with the United Nations should be applied. However, the section in the NATO publication about how to mitigate against underwater threats (mines, submarines, underwater sabotage) would seem particularly relevant to the scenario ships are faced with when participating in the described initiative.

 

See also our story about the Black Sea Grain Initiative

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Jakob Paaske Larsen

CONTACT BIMCO

Jakob Paaske Larsen

Head of Maritime Safety & Security

Copenhagen, Denmark