Kyiv on Monday. Oct. 24, accused Russia of purposefully delaying the arrival from Turkey of more than 165 cargo ships heading to Ukrainian ports to be loaded with grain.

Russia’s inspectors “have been significantly prolonging the inspection of vessels… As a result, more than 165 vessels have been stuck in a queue near the Bosphorus Strait and this number continues to grow daily”, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.

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“We have reason to believe that the delays in Russia’s inspections of the Grain Initiative’s vessels are politically motivated,” it added.

The vessels have been waiting to clear the meticulous inspection process required under the Turkish- and UN-backed accord aimed at getting Ukrainian grain to foreign markets and easing fears of a global food crisis.

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Since the deal between Russia and Ukraine came into force on August 1, more than 8.5 million metric tonnes of grain and foodstuffs have left for Europe, the Middle East and to a lesser extent, Africa, according to data from the Joint Coordination Center (ICC) overseeing the agreement.

In a statement late on Monday, the ICC confirmed the delays but stopped short of pointing a finger of blame at any parties.

“The JCC is concerned that the delays may cause disruption in the supply chain and port operations,” it said.

A spokesperson for the Istanbul-based centre told AFP that over 170 ships were waiting in the Bosphorus in order to head to Ukrainian ports for grain loads.

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“The JCC is discussing ways to address the backlog, noting that the next harvest is approaching and silos in the Ukrainian ports covered under the Initiative will be soon full again,” the centre said.

“The JCC regrets inconveniences caused to the shipping and trading industry. It reaffirms its commitment to enable the safe and timely navigation for exports under the Initiative.”

When Russia invaded Ukraine, a global grain exporter, in February and blocked its sea ports, there were fears of a global food crisis. The agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports has brought much-needed relief.

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But Ukraine says that Russia is deliberately stalling shipments.

“Russia’s actions undermine global food security, in particular in the global south,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry added.

It noted that inspection delays have already prevented Kyiv from exporting an additional three million tonnes of grain, threatening food security for some 10 million people.

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