On Monday, the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa.
This ship was a part of a deal that was made to aid the growing global food crisis by unblocking the embattled country’s agricultural exports.
The cargo ship, Razoni, sounded its horn and headed to Lebanon with over 26,000 tons of corn.
“The first grain ship since Russian aggression has left port,” Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov stated on Twitter.
On July 22, Russia and Ukraine signed agreements in Istanbul with Turkey and the U.N.
The agreements allow Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products stuck in Black Sea ports because Russia invaded Ukraine over five months ago.
The agreements also allowed Russia to export fertilizer and grain.
Safe passageways through the mined seas outside Ukraine’s ports were developed as part of the accords.
Ships entering and leaving Ukrainian ports will be scrutinized to make sure they don’t have any weapons on board.
Outgoing ships will be inspected to ensure that they only carry grain, fertilizer, or related food items, not other commodities.
The U.N. and Turkey took two months to reach a deal.
It lasts 120 days but can be renewed if both parties agree.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the ship’s departure and praised Turkey for its role in implementing the agreement.
However, there are concerns that even though ships can leave Ukraine with tonnes of grain, they might not be able to get insurance to return for another load.
But Mr. Kubrakov expects to see between one and three vessels going either way in the next few weeks, with empty ships coming to Odessa’s port from Turkey’s Bosporus Strait.
At Odesa, 16 more vessels, blocked since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, are waiting their turn, with others to follow.
Ukraine and Russia are major global suppliers of wheat, barley, corn, and sunflower oil.
The fertile Black Sea region is long known as the breadbasket of Europe.
Because of the war, food shipments have been delayed, which has driven up food prices globally and raised the risk of starvation and political unrest in developing countries.
“Today Ukraine, together with partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger,” Kubrakov said.
Lebanon, the corn’s destination, is currently in a financial crisis after a 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut. The explosion destroyed grain silos and left the capital city devastated.
Lebanon mainly imports wheat from Ukraine but also buys its corn to make cooking oil and produce animal feed.
Kubrakov believes Ukraine’s war-shattered economy should also improve due to the shipments.
“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hails the ship’s departure as “very positive,” saying it will test the “efficiency of the mechanisms that were agreed to during the talks in Istanbul.”
However, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sounded a cautious note.
He called the shipment “the first positive signal that there is a chance to stop the spread of a food crisis in the world” and urged international partners to monitor Moscow’s compliance with the deal closely.
“We cannot have the illusions that Russia will simply refrain from trying to disrupt Ukrainian exports,” Zelenskyy said.
According to the presidential office of Ukraine, throughout the course of the last day, Russian shelling in the Donetsk region resulted in at least three civilian deaths and 16 injuries.
Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko of Donetsk reiterated his plea for an evacuation of all citizens, stressing the necessity to get 52,000 children out of the city.
Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the military administration in the city of Kryvyi Rih, reported that two civilians were killed and two others were critically hurt when Russian forces fired missiles at a bus transporting citizens out of a village in the southern Kherson region.
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