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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: How long can Ukraine keep its grain corridor open?

Listen to the latest edition of the Lloyd’s List’s weekly podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

Ukraine’s Black Sea corridor is an undeniable success. Ships are sailing into and out of Ukraine outside of an international agreement and most importantly without direct Russian interference. It is a critical route for grain export and many countries besides Ukraine have a vested interest in its continued operation. Ukraine says the military is key to the corridor functioning. This week we discuss how true this is, and whether or not a lack of military aid could really result in the route’s closure



LAST July Ukraine’s deepsea maritime trade dried up with the collapse of the Black Sea Initiative.

Within days Ukraine put forward a proposal to the UN detailing a route that would see ships sailing through Romanian waters to reach the greater Odesa ports. In August, Ukraine announced the opening of a “humanitarian” corridor, pitching the route as a way to evacuate stranded ships.

The initial departures were indeed stuck ships, but in September the first vessels started to arrive from foreign markets and this so-called “new” Black Sea corridor was officially open for business.

Since then more than 1,000 ships have exported nearly 30m tonnes from Ukraine, helping to fuel the country’s wartime economy and moving large quantities of desperately needed grain back on to the market.

In February, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg attributed the opening of the corridor to Ukraine’s armed forces who have been remarkably successful at pushing Russia’s Black Sea fleet further away from its coasts. “Few believed this was possible just a few months ago,” he said. “But now actually, the export of grain from Ukraine takes place even without an agreement with Russia. So this shows the skills and the competence of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has reinforced the importance of the country’s military in the functioning of the corridor and has warned that Ukraine will struggle to defend the route without additional military aid from the US.

While the US announced an additional package for Ukraine worth up to $300m earlier this week, the Department of Defense’s supplemental request which includes roughly $60bn in military aid is still yet to be passed by Congress.

Talking on the podcast this week:

  • I.R. Consilium chief executive, Ian Ralby

  • Head of sanctions advisory at Lloyd’s of London, Chris Po-Ba 

  • Bosphorus Observer’s geopolitical analyst, Yörük Işik

  • Senior associate at Black Sea Associates, Callum Thomson 


The Black Sea corridor for grain shipments was also discussed last week in our Geopolitical Risk webinar. Our expert panel looked at the data behind recent shift in trade lanes as a result of Red Sea disruption and the evolving landscape of sanctions compliance among other topics. If you missed it, you can register to watch on demand here.

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