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First Grain Ship Since Russia Invasion Leaves Ukraine

Ukraine grain
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel left Odessa, Ukraine on Monday morning and will dock in Lebanon. Credit: Ukraine Ministry of Infrastructure

A ship carrying grain left the port of Odessa on Monday morning. It is the first since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russia has been blockading Ukrainian ports, but the two sides agreed to a deal to resume shipments in order to ease the global food crisis and lower the price of grain.

In a statement issued ahead of the ship’s departure, Turkey said the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel would dock in Lebanon, adding that further shipments were planned over the coming weeks.

The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul set up under the deal said the ship was carrying some 26,000 tons of corn and was expected to arrive in Turkish waters for inspection on Tuesday.

Shipment of grain a step to prevent world hunger, says Ukraine

“Today Ukraine, together with partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Alexander Kubrakov wrote on Facebook.

“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,” Kubrakov said.

Kubrakov added that sixteen other ships were waiting to depart in the ports of the Odessa region in the coming weeks.

Last month’s deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, took two months to reach and is set to last for 120 days. It can be renewed if both parties come to agreement.

The blockade of Ukraine’s grain has caused a global food crisis with wheat-based products, such as bread and pasta, becoming more expensive and cooking oils and fertilizer also increasing in price.

Under the terms of the deal, Russia has agreed not to target ports while shipments are in transit, and Ukraine has agreed that its naval vessels will guide cargo ships through waters that have been mined.

Turkey, supported by the United Nations, will inspect ships, to allay Russian fears of weapons smuggling.

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