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December 05, 2018 | Reuters

Grain Ship Caught in Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Russian spot-checks hold up wheat deliveries at the Kerch Strait

When the Island Bay cargo ship arrived from Beirut at the Kerch Strait, gateway to the Azov Sea, it sailed into a perfect storm of geopolitics and bad weather.

Reuters reports the following day, Russia opened fire on three Ukrainian naval ships, impounded them and detained their sailors, some of them wounded. It then blocked the strait by putting a tanker underneath a new bridge it has built linking the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

A week later, Island Bay’s cargo of 5,500 tonnes of wheat, destined for flour mills in Libya, waited clearance in the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk.

The saga of the ship is a window on the leverage Moscow has over Ukraine’s Azov seaboard, affecting dock workers, port operators, brokers and farmers who depend on the route.

Read the full report at Reuters.

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