Freight rates for grain exports via new Black Sea route fall sharply, Ukraine says

Ships await grain loading in Black Sea ports. July 2023. Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure

KYIV, Oct 2 (Reuters) – A new corridor allowing cargo vessels to carry Ukrainian grain and iron ore from Black Sea ports has significantly lowered freight rates and they are likely to fall further, Ukraine’s farm minister said on Monday. Kyiv launched what it calls a temporary humanitarian corridor in August to allow agricultural exports as an alternative arrangement after Russia blocked the U.N.-backed Black Sea grain deal that had been in place for a year.

Three more cargo ships left Ukrainian seaports on Sunday, while five new vessels came in for loading. “New vessels are coming. Every farmer in the near future will be able to feel that logistics due to this route should become cheaper and, accordingly, the (profit margin) of grain will increase,” Mykola Solsky told national television. Several cargo vessels used the new route in September, delivering grain and iron ore to the global market. “The first (ships) left. It was expensive. The next ones are cheaper. I think freight has become 30-40% cheaper in the last 2-3 weeks. It is still expensive, but it is much cheaper than it was,” Solsky said. He did not give exact figures.

Ukraine is expected to harvest 79 million tons of grain and oilseed in 2023, with an exportable surplus of about 50 million tons in 2023/24. After it invaded Ukraine last year, Russia closed off the Black Sea ports from one of the world’s biggest suppliers of grain, in what Kyiv and its Western backers called an attempt to use global food supplies as blackmail. Moscow said the ports could bring in weapons.

From July 2022, the ports were reopened under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that allowed Russia to inspect ships for arms but Russia blocked the deal in July this year. Insurance broker Miller said last month that a new marine insurance facility for Ukrainian grain exports using the country’s new sea corridor had been set up. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Comment: Dropping insurance rates for Ukraine bound ships is the surest indicator that Ukraine is winning the war at sea. Not bad for a nation without much of a navy. Perhaps this was the main goal of the recent raids on offshore oil/gas platforms and coastal radar sites along with the missile strikes on Crimean air defense sites and the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. This is going to be a long war, not that it hasn’t already has been a long war, and Ukraine has to able to conduct some level of commerce if she hopes to continue that war well into 2024 and beyond. Thus the necessity of the Black Sea front of the counteroffensive.

But how permanent is this situation? Can Ukraine reliably keep the crippled Black Sea Fleet away from this new shipping corridor? Granted most of this corridor passes through NATO waters now that it’s established on Ukraine’s terms. Russia can still hit the port facilities. And it only takes one missile or mine to put the maritime insurance industry into a tizzy. I don’t think the Black Sea Fleet can muster much more than that. The collective West does seem prepared to assist or even supplant the insurance industry in responding to the occasional mishap at sea.


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39 Responses to Freight rates for grain exports via new Black Sea route fall sharply, Ukraine says

  1. F&L says:

    This is Sergei Markov just now on Telegram pasted below.
    He was once Putin’s press Secretary of some variety. In the comments you hear “Everything is going according to plan.”

    In Russia, this is what happens when the country is governed by thieves for thirty years – no navy, but plenty of yachts for the rulers & their friends.

    In the US, you get the financial crash of ‘07, BLM riots and burning called “peaceful protests” on national TV, LGBTQ, free sex change counseling and hormones for kids, a circus instead of a congress and our own true as Apple pie specialty: 700+ mass shootings per year, with 367 armed police from three agencies looking on for 90 minutes as 18 little kids are shot to death in their classrooms.

    It’s enough to make a person lose their faith in Drive-Through Jesus and his megachurches.

    And the iPhone 15 overheats. Can’t even design a new iPhone.
    The ships of the Black Sea Fleet will apparently be forced to relocate from Sevastopol to Feodosia and Novorossiysk. The reason is too great a threat from the latest types of weapons, such as the British Storm Shadows, which are increasingly being used by Britain at the hands of the Ukrainian Armed Forces against the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The losses are already significant. But good protection has not yet been found. But they are still afraid of striking Britain. It is easier to take the ships to Novorossiysk.

  2. Sam says:

    Fascinating piece on how Russia’s military capabilities are eroding from Lewis Page in @Telegraph, this time focussed on the Russian maritime patrol missions across the Black Sea & North Atlantic. Full piece below.

    Maybe this has to do with freight rates from Ukraine falling…

    • Sam says:

      Here we are. 19 months ago RU started with total domination at Black Sea north western quarters. Now RU transfered bulk of its ships&subs to Novorosiysk as risk of further stay at Sevastopol is too great. Incredible UA accomplishment given limited means.

      From denying Russian airborne forces to land in Hostomel to decapitate Kyiv and now forcing the Black Sea fleet out , the Ukrainian forces have punched well above their weight taking on a “super power military”! More than a year & a half later Putin is no closer to his objectives than when he invaded Ukraine.

      • English Outsider says:

        “From denying Russian airborne forces to land in Hostomel to decapitate Kyiv and now forcing the Black Sea fleet out , the Ukrainian forces have punched well above their weight taking on a “super power military”!”

        Sam – that’s happy talk. It’s what we’ve been fed for the last year and a half. Should we still be falling for it?

        We need to know much more about the early days of the SMO before writing off the Kiev incursion as a failed attempt to take the city.

        The Western military experts and journalists were almost all thinking in terms that aren’t appropriate here. Take Berlin and that’s the war over. Take Baghdad and it’s job done. (?). Take Kiev and the war is won!

        Complete nonsense. Take Kiev, and the Russians would still have been left with a country full of fighters, many NATO trained and equipped for small unit tactics and street fighting. Dealing with that would have been costly in terms of casualties, in terms of manpower the Russians didn’t have, and in terms of quite disastrous public image. They would have been caught up in just the “Russia’s Afghanistan” that all in the West were talking about at that time. The Russians avoided all that and ever since the Western PR has made of that avoidance a “defeat”.

        It’s recently come out, unless it’s a rumour only, that the incursion of February 24th was preceded by a missile strike on the Ukrainian command post in the Donbass, thus throwing the Ukrainian army into confusion and incapacitating AD. And we know that the attack on Baghdad was preceded by extensive work of that nature. The notion that the Russians were intending to take Kiev with the small forces they had and no preliminary softening up is a myth we should now discard.

        And the PR about Gostomel, both sides, was impenetrable. Until much more is known of those early days we have no secure knowledge on which to base any judgment.

        As with Kiev, so with Kharkov and Kherson. Both marked down in Western PR terms as significant victories over a demoralised and inadequate Russian army. But both preceded by extensive and well organised evacuation of civilians beforehand indicating something quite different.

        We should not forget that the Western military takes information war very seriously and devotes great amounts of money and manpower to it. It’s therefore almost a patriotic duty for retired Generals such as Hodges or Petraeus, and the hordes of “analysts” and journalists, to come out with all sorts of nonsense backing up those efforts in the information war. I see the nonsense faithfully reproduced – often embroidered to a ridiculous extent – in the English press. Since the Russian and Ukrainian internet is similarly infested by PR merchants eagerly talking their book much of the material we have been fed on this or that action in this war is pretty well valueless.

        If that sounds a little grumpy, it is! I’ve just been reading some very clever stuff, from both sides, about the quite new military problems encountered in this war.

        And it is clever stuff, no doubt about it. Organising large numbers of men in a fighting zone saturated with AD, drones, missiles and scarily precise long range artillery, and that with ISR assets giving a bird’s eye view of the battlefield and rear areas that Zhukov or Manstein would have given their eye teeth for, is demanding and requires much new thinking.

        That’s already led to new tactics, new ways of waging war. One can only watch respectfully as one sees the military hotshots grappling with these new problems and new opportunities. And, it seems, coping with them with a constantly evolving series of solution.

        Well and good. But then one sees all the fancy theory resolving itself into the same old same old. The Russians mostly sitting behind their Maginot line and knocking hell out of the unfortunate Ukrainian PBI. Minimal casualties, though minimal in this context is no joke, and lethal effect. With the exception of the very start of the SMO and one or two instances later, that’s how it’s been since the start and that’s how it will be until the unfortunate Ukrainian PBI are all dead or give up.

        And yet! We saw recently the top Western Generals, Cavoli and Milley, and Radakin if he qualifies, meeting Zaluzhny and instructing him to feed more of the unfortunate Ukrainian PBI into the impossible meat grinder of Robotyne.

        What were they about? Trying another Hail Mary? Giving the politicians time to put a good face on defeat? Hoping to give the Russians a bloody nose by proxy and at low cost to themselves, as Petraeus and Romney proudly announce? Or, as some Western generals state, using the Ukrainians as lab rats to test new ideas and equipment?

        None of this justifies what’s now happening. None of it justifies the happy talk still coming out from the Western “analysts” and journalists.

        It’s been obvious since February 24th a year and more ago, and we need no hotshot Generals to confirm, that this war is a lost cause. For those who didn’t get it then, the failure of the sanctions war underlined that in red. But the lab rats are still getting squished at the behest of the Western powers and that, when the history books come to be written, will be regarded as a crime equal to Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and so many other regions where our conscienceless and inept politicians have tried their hand at the “Grand Chessboard”.

        So Sam. Don’t be taken in by the happy talk. It’s put out mostly to fool you. And before we deliver ourselves of weighty judgements on this or that action, on Gostomel or Kiev, let’s wait a bit until we find out what actually happened there.

        • TTG says:


          You are the one being taken in by happy talk of the Kremlin never wanting to take Kyiv or Kharkov. They wanted Odesa, too. They were to decapitate the government and install their own puppets. They failed in all that.

          But you are definitely right about Russia’s invasion and Ukraine’s defense changing the ways wars are fought. Zaluzhny wisely realized that a Western combined arms maneuver thrust without air superiority against defensive minefields well covered by artillery and antitank fire was impossible. He learned that lesson in a matter of a few days and is now fighting in a slower, more methodical and far less costly manner. The Russian defense remains formidable, but their counterattacks across their own minefields are bleeding their forces dry. Ukrainian drones and counter battery fire is bleeding away the Russian artillery. This is certainly not the Western way of war, but it’s the way war now is. Ukraine and Russia are learning first hand. Everyone else is taking notes.

          • English Outsider says:

            Well, we can forget about Europe when it comes to fighting that sort of modern war, TTG. Only the US has the money and the military structure in place to go to that level. And it’d be a stretch even for the US right now. As far as I know there’s nothing much you’ve got over here.

            Two big surprises for me the last year or so. The first was the Germans going back to the Sieg Heil stuff. The second was it turned out NATO’s a paper tiger.

            I suppose most of us in England are still living in the days of the previous Cold War, when the BAOR was a force to be reckoned with, the Germans also, and the Americans had masses of troops and equipment over here.

            Listening to Wallace and Shapps now, seems some of our politicians are still living in that era. Fantasy merchants, and most in England blithely living in that world with them. And now we’ve woken the Bear up the imbalance is even greater.

            The trump card Europe had was in any case not military. It was the huge leverage the size of the European economy gave it. The US didn’t have that sort of trade muscle since their trade with Russia was not great. Europe did.

            So Berlin/Brussels played that trump card and got hammered. End of story?

            With any luck yes. But not necessarily. As has been clear since the failure of the Istanbul talks (if those talks were genuine!) the Russians will absorb such of the old Ukraine as they see fit and neutralise the rest. Then they may return to their 2021 European Security demands.

            We’re well into Cold War II now so the Euros won’t agree to those demands. All depends therefore on how important those European Security demands are to the Russians.

            If the Russians do think those demands important they won’t fool around with military action. Far too expensive and disruptive and it wouldn’t look good to their new friends. Their troops will stay their side of the new Iron Curtain unless we do something dumb and provoke them.

            What they’re more likely to do is play their own trade card.

            Europe made a big deal of refusing to buy Russian fossil fuel and materials but that was to some extent shadow boxing. They’re still dependent on supplies from Russia. If Russia did cut off their supplies, to encourage them to move missile bases back and so on, then the European economy, already battered by sanctions the EU itself imposed, would be severely affected by sanctions going the other way. They wouldn’t even get called sanctions. Just declining to renew supply contracts when they came up for renewal.

            Biden said back in March 2022, in Warsaw, that he’d help Europe out if Europe was disadvantaged by the sanctions. But that was last year. It’s already causing a fuss in the States helping to keep the Ukrainian economy going. I doubt very much Biden would be able to help the entirety of Europe.

            None of the neocons, American or European, seem to have gamed that eventuality. In fact on current performance I doubt the European neocons could game putting one foot in front of the other. But someone ought to be looking at what would happen if the Russians did return to those 2021 European Security demands in earnest.

          • TTG says:


            I can’t remember which American administration it was, but someone made a disparaging distinction between old Europe and new Europe referring to those countries newly freed from the Kremlin’s grasp. Militarily, that’s were Europe’s power has shifted with Poland in the lead and growing quickly. The Nordics aren’t far behind. Both South Korea and Germany will be manufacturing tanks and IFVs in Poland. Türkiye will be manufacturing drones and probably much more in Ukraine. Most of the West is cranking up their arms and munitions manufacturing to equip these new European armies.

            It is the Kremlin who really did not think this through. Before their invasion, the Russian military had the reputation of being at least as good, if not better, than the US military. That myth has been shattered as well as a good chunk of their better equipment and elite units. The only saving grace for them is that they now know their weaknesses and are learning valuable lessons in Ukraine. The Kremlin now knows that their new weapons were built with Western technology and that fact was hidden by rampant corruption at all levels of the economy.

            Europe is stagnant economically, but not collapsing. The US is doing surprisingly well considering all the dire predictions made a year ago that we would be deep in a mighty recession by now. There appear to be many on the right that dearly want the collapse of the West just so they can say I told you so.

            The energy market has been turned upside down and that fact is at the heart of European and especially German economic stagnation. The big winners in this turmoil are China and India. They are forcing massive discounts in oil and gas pricing on the Kremlin. The Kremlin has no choice but to agree to those discounts. The world will adjust. Eventually Russia will rebuild her energy transport industry to face east rather than west, but they’ll have to do it without Western technology or investment. Once that’s accomplished, Russia’s profits from her energy sector will allow her to rebuild her military to its former glory and do so without a reliance on Western technology. Europe will realign her energy market finally realizing the potential of nuclear power and resume economic growth. The iron curtain will, in all likelihood, be solidly in place. And I predict Crimea will be on the western side of that curtain. The rump Donbas, I’m not so sure of.

          • LeaNder says:

            I can’t remember which American administration it was, but someone made a disparaging distinction between old Europe and new Europe referring to those countries newly freed from the Kremlin’s grasp.

            Old Europe was coined for those countries of “old Europe” that did not join the US in the Iraq War. In other words, the Coalition of the Unwilling.

            I am not surprised you forget.

      • Fred says:


        “a year & a half later Putin is no closer to his objectives”

        What’s the casualty count of Ukraine these days? How many millions are no longer resident in Ukraine? Who controls most of the Black Sea coastline of Ukraine?

    • Fred says:


      “silent struggle against Nato submarines” is this media opion editor talking about?

  3. Yeah, Right says:

    “A new corridor allowing cargo vessels to carry Ukrainian grain and iron ore from Black Sea ports has significantly lowered freight rates and they are likely to fall further, Ukraine’s farm minister said on Monday.”

    “I think freight has become 30-40% cheaper in the last 2-3 weeks.”

    From *what* to *what*?

    “He did not give exact figures.”

    No shit, hey? It is a meaningless statement without those figures.

    The insurance is issued by insurance companies, are they not?
    The ships belong to shipping companies, do they not?

    Did either the euromaidanpress or the dailykos go to those shipping companies or to those insurance companies and asked them what it costs?

    Otherwise they are simply acting as stenographers to Mykola Solsky, and your post tells us nothing other than that you accept his word unconditionally.

    • TTG says:

      Yeah, Right,

      You have a particular ship you want to know about? The specific insurance premium for each ship will be different. The rates paid by the recent ships using the new corridor are 30 to 40% lower than the ships that transited the corridor 2 or 3 weeks ago. There’s nothing meaningless about that statement. I think you’re upset because it’s a Ukrainian success and a Russian fail.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        Again, a pointless point unless you know what the rates are.

        I have no doubt whatsoever that the first ship that took that alternate route did so under stratospherically-high insurance rates.

        It wasn’t sunk. Hurrah!

        I’m not entirely sure why you thought that it would be sunk but, nonetheless, Hurrah!

        So subsequent ships sail with lower (30-40% lower, if you believe the article) rates.

        Okay…. so what are those lower rates? Are they sustainably low, or still too high to turn a profit?

        Let’s ask Solsky: “It is still expensive, but it is much cheaper than it was,”

        Again, meaningless. Still expensive? As in… what, exactly?

        Enough to make this an unprofitable enterprise? Yes? Or no?

        Because if that is the case – and Solsky doesn’t tell us either way – then shipping companies are soon going to lose interest in this.

        TTG: “I think you’re upset because it’s a Ukrainian success and a Russian fail”

        You, yourself, put your finger on the futility of that statement when you point out that the Russians can put a stop to this by destroying the ports.

        The Russians had two main complaints about the “old” grain deal:
        1) The Ukrainians were using those passages to launch sea drones against Sevastopol.
        2) The Russians weren’t getting the sanctions-relief that was the Ying to the Ukrainian shipping Yang.

        Well, gosh, (1) is no longer a problem, so there is no imperative to Russia sinking these ships.

        And, honestly, (2) isn’t a good enough reason for Russia to sink those ships.

        There is plenty of copium going on here, but I’m not at all convinced it is coming from me.

        Solsky says some things that are, indeed, meaningless goobly-gook, and you hail that as proof of “a Ukrainian success and a Russian fail”

        Good for you.

        • blue peacock says:

          You’re missing the point. Maybe intentionally…

          The Russian Black Sea fleet dominated the regional waters. Putin annexed Crimea precisely due to threat of losing Sevastopol and the naval facilities.

          Now they are being forced out and relocating. By puny Ukraine relative to the gigantic Russian military. Crimea itself is under threat. The analogy is if Mexico with Xi’s and Putin’s support forced the US Navy out of San Diego.

          • Fred says:


            Ukraine’s using British missles to do that. Maybe everyone is missing that point, intentionally.

          • TTG says:


            What’s that point, that Britain and a lot other countries are standing with Ukraine against Russia’s invasion? I agree that is an important point.

          • blue peacock says:


            No one is missing that point. Both Ukraine and UK have been public about that.

            The Russians are getting Iranian drones, North Korean artillery shells and who knows what from Xi. No one should be missing that point either.

            The fact remains that the Russian Black Sea fleet is relocating from Crimea due to Ukraine’s use of weaponry sourced from around the world and their operational tactics. And Ukraine ain’t no military super power unlike Russia. The supply of weaponry & intelligence to Ukraine has been meaningfully material in the defense of Ukrainian territory by the Ukrainian army.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            blue peacock, yours is an internally-contradictory argument.

            “The Russian Black Sea fleet dominated the regional waters.”

            That Black Sea fleet dominates the Black Sea when… it is at sea.

            It is axiomatic that it can not dominate the Black Sea whilst it is at anchor.

            “Now they are being forced out and relocating. ”

            Yeah, the Novorossiysk is ANOTHER naval base that the Russians have in the Black Sea because, du’oh, in a shooting war it is always better to have more naval bases than less naval bases.

            But, again, that’s where they make port, to refuel, restock, and refit.

            That they go to Novorossiysk rather than to Sevastopol doesn’t affect the Black Sea’s fleet ability to dominate the Black Sea because (did I mention this before? I think I did) a navy dominates when it is at sea, not when it is in port.

            There is so much copium at this web site.

            Here, a quick question for you: if the Russian Black Sea fleet has been forced to flee – as you appear to be claiming – then why does this new Ukrainian “grain corridor” hug the territorial waters of NATO countries?

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            The Black Sea Fleet is not only not safe in Sevastopol, it can no longer safely patrol the western half of the Black Sea. Thus the retreat to Novorossysk and no patrolling west of the Tarkhankut Peninsula. They can no longer blockade Odesa.

            Why use NATO territorial waters for much of the grain corridor? It reduces risk to shipping. It’s that simple.

          • Fred says:


            The Russians were blockading Odessa? With what, half a dozen corvettes and fewer deisel electric submarines? Please.

          • TTG says:


            You left out the half dozen guided missile frigates, the cruiser Moskva (at least for a while) and several dozen other suitable ships. Those half dozen Kilo class diesel electric subs are also quite capable of keeping Odesa bottled up. Then there’s the fleet air arm and landing forces. They weren’t just blockading Odesa. They intended to stage an amphibious invasion.

          • Fred says:


            “Blockade” would apparently be to
            a) prevent grain exports
            b) prevent importation of military equipment
            the later being exactly what they accused NATO (the UK) of doing after the first missle attack on the Kirch Straits bridge.

            Of course that’s all speculation as is your commentary on mines. They never declared a blockade. But the Atlantic Council says their actions are a blockade, so does the NY Post. It MUST be true then. Here’s a timeline from earlier in the year:

    • Fred says:

      Yeah, Right,

      See below. They stay within the territorial waters of adjacent (NATO member) nations. The prior article mentions a shipped flagged by that world shipping power Palau. (Maybe they should send their navy to protect their shipping)

      • blue peacock says:


        You do know that the majority of ships are flagged in countries like Liberia and Cyprus. They are flagged not because of Liberia’s navy…lol!

        Take Maersk, a Danish headquartered global shipping company. How many ships they operate are flagged in countries like Denmark, Germany, UK or US? What percentage of ships do US domiciled shipping companies flag in the US?

        • Fred says:


          That’s all to avoid the costs of being protected, in more ways than one. Screw the grain owners if they don’t want to actually have their cargos securely shipped.

  4. leith says:

    How much of that Ukrainian grain has been stolen by Putin? And how many tons did he destroy in his attack on grain silos? Plus thousands of square kilometers of Ukrainian farmland are full of mines and unexploded ordnance thanks to the Kremlin. They need that demining equipment asap. But it is going to take years, even with an international effort.

    On the un-mined fields they’ll need to get the winter wheat crop planted soon, if they haven’t started already.

  5. Fred says:

    “most of this corridor passes through NATO waters now that it’s established on Ukraine’s terms.”

    So Turkey is doing what Ukraine tells it to do? LOL. Just kidding. Those merchants will be hugging the coastline to avoid international waters, kind of like Napoleon’s subjugated nations did under his continental system ’cause the Royal Navy (remember when they had one?) kept an actual blocade in place with actual ships in sight of the main ports. Did you see the line “He did not give exact figures.”? He being the Ukrainian Agricultural minister. Also missing from the report is whose flag is on the ship(s), who is insuring them, and oh, how do insurance rates compare to pre-war rates; also:
    “Poland” though if you scroll down you do get a related article which states:

    “Slovakia, Poland and Hungary imposed national restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports last week after the European Union executive decided not to extend its ban on imports into those countries and fellow bloc members Bulgaria and Romania.

    The countries have argued that cheap Ukrainian agricultural goods meant mainly to transit further west and to ports, get sold locally, harming their own farmers. The EU, which imposed its ban in May, let it expire on Friday after Ukraine vowed to tighten controls.”

    My my the EU is the one who banned Ukrainian grain by rail? Will wonders never cease. And something, what could it possibly be, was happening over the last 2 weeks. Oh, Ukraine beat Russia! Phew glad to hear good news. Maybe we can get our army out of Poland now and get them down to the Rio Grande to defend NYC from all those illegals fleeing to the great Sanctuary City on the Hudson.

    • TTG says:


      Here’s more info on who’s behind the insurance for the new shipping corridor.

      The London-based marine insurance broker Miller has unveiled a new insurance coverage offering for Ukrainian grain exports in the Black Sea. After Russia quit the Black Sea grain deal in July, Ukraine established a temporary shipping route to resume grain shipments in its Black Sea ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi.
      In the past month, over five cargo ships have transited the corridor successfully despite the threat of attack from Russia. Three more vessels this week have also entered Ukraine’s Black Sea ports using the corridor.
      Miller said its new Black Sea insurance cover is offered in conjunction with Ukrainian authorities. The firm has also teamed up with maritime technology company Clearwater Dynamics to offer advanced vessel tracking technology and a 24/7 operations room monitoring of the grain corridor. This will give another layer of security to insurers and underwriters with live oversight of all vessels using the corridor.

      • Fred says:


        “Miller said its new Black Sea insurance cover is offered in conjunction with Ukrainian authorities. ”

        Since Ukraine is ‘in conjuction’ i.e. paying the tab, and we are funding all of Ukraine’s government functions, we are paying for it. Left out is what the price is and how that compares to pre-war insurance rates.

        • TTG says:


          The EU is providing way more financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine than we are. We’re leading military aid. I’m sure the insurance rates now are more than they were prior to the invasion. That’s what happens in war zones. I bet it’s still cheaper than transshipping the grain across Europe by train.

        • Yeah, Right says:

          Again, I’ll point out that *if* Ukraine is paying the tab for these ships then it is an open question about how profitable this is for Ukraine.

          A propaganda triumph, sure. TTG is convinced that it is “a Ukrainian success and a Russian fail”.

          But the idea is for Ukraine to turn a profit by selling its grain. I am not at all convinced that this is the case.

          Still, great propaganda. TTG approves.

    • F&L says:

      This belongs on the open thread, but maybe since it involves food security our host will allow it. I’ve pasted a couple paragraphs for those lacking a subscription. For those interested in my own thoughts on billionaires, especially kilo class and mega-billionaires I’ll simply say that eating them is a step too far – boiling alive is sufficient. I mean I’m not against feeding the dogs and cats or some suet for the bird feeder, but it’s exceedingly unappetizing in my opinion as a source of human nourishment. However my real inner motivation is to provide a further nail for the coffin of the New York Times newspapers. Their reporting is irresponsible and leaves out entirely information on how difficult it is to kill monsters, especially vampires and ghouls, which you’d expect to be included in a piece of reporting like this.

      Breaking News: New York Times accuses UAW of Cannibalism:

      New U.A.W. Chief Has a Nonnegotiable Demand: Eat the Rich
      Shawn Fain’s disdain for the “billionaire class” informs his showdown with Detroit’s automakers. Now he must prove that his hard-core tactics pay off.
      For as long as anyone can remember, the Indiana city of Kokomo has been a conservative stronghold. Ronald Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in Kokomo. Bill Clinton lost twice. So did Barack Obama. The current mayor, a Republican, is running unopposed for re-election. It’s a town known for something it would prefer to forget: a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1923 that was the largest ever.

      Yet somehow Kokomo produced a union leader whose rhetoric is aimed at toppling the conservative and moneyed classes — a rebel who rejects the niceties of an earlier era in favor of a sharp-edged confrontation.

      “Billionaires in my opinion don’t have a right to exist,” says Shawn Fain, who is leading the United Automobile Workers in a multifront labor battle against the Big Three carmakers that has little precedent and is making a lot of noise.

  6. wiz says:

    Viktor Orban claims that : “Ukrainian grain is not really Ukrainian, but a commercial product from lands that the United States has likely owned for a long time.”

    Maybe that’s why there’s all this effort to enable export of grain from Ukraine. US commercial interests.

    Food for thought:

    If Russian navy is clearly struggling to counter Ukrainian asymmetric warfare efforts, how would the world’s most expensive navy fare against aerial and underwater drones, stealth cruise missiles and the works ?

    I’m sure Iran and China are taking notes. Mexican cartels possibly as well.

    • TTG says:


      In this case, Orban is talking out his ass. Foreign companies can’t own land in Ukraine. A small percentage is leased through investments. The biggest buyer of Ukrainian agricultural products is China.

      It’s not just Iran and China taking notes on naval warfare. All navies are. Naval warfare has already evolved into a mostly over the horizon battle with sea and air launched cruise and ballistic missiles. For the asymmetric stuff, Iran may be the leader. Ukraine is just putting it all together into a coherent strategy.

      I have to add to my comment on Ukrainian farmland. From gaining her independence to the Euromaidan, Ukrainian farmland was sold off to a lot of foreign investors. Oligarchs held most of the rest. After that, foreign ownership of farmland was no longer allowed. I don’t know how or to what extent that prior ownership was untangled.

      • Mark Logan says:


        In the age of Lancets, FPV drones, and the Russian version of JDAMs, I wonder if assets like warships are relevant in this war. The Russians hardly need them to mess with the ships, and they can pelt the ports to shut down the grain shipments. What seems to be a serious monkey wrench in that plan is the Russians are afraid to cut off China from the grain so it seems it will continue to flow, at least to them, but that’s a lot of grain.

        On the farmland of Ukraine here are a couple articles on the land reforms that were instituted after Maidan Square and the election of Zelensky. One calls it a good thing, one a bad.

        The USAID thinks it great because it “unlocks investment potential:

        Relief Aid thinks that investment potential is not going to help the farmers.,US%2Dbased%20private%20equity%20fund.

        Being from Idaho farm stock myself, the land of our own black soils and nearly all privately owned farms, I lean towards the latter account by natural inclination and rather strongly, but the long history of private farmers here had created very well educated private farmers and systems which keep them up to speed. I am deeply ignorant of how Ukrainian farmers think and operate and if they have, in the lack of big corporate investment for the expensive equipment, the quick ability to be competitive, so there’s my caveat.

  7. leith says:

    The Brits suspect Putin is going to have his fleet in the Black Sea lay down some sea mines on the route that the grain is being shipped. Yes, it’s in NATO waters, but it could be done surreptitiously via a submarine. That gives a thin thread of deniability.

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