First Ukraine grain ship to set sail, more to follow, says Turkey

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The first ship to set sail from Ukraine with grain exports since the beginning of the Russian invasion is due to leave on Monday under a guaranteed safe passage agreement, Turkey’s defence ministry said, adding that more will follow. The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni will set off from Odesa port for Lebanon with its cargo of corn, the ministry said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24 has sparked a worldwide food and energy crisis that is shaking the global economy. The United Nations has warned of a global hunger crisis with a “real risk” of multiple famines this year.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat exports. But Western sanctions on Russia and fighting along Ukraine’s eastern seaboard have prevented grain ships safely leaving ports. The Razoni’s departure was made possible after Moscow, Kyiv, Ankara and the United Nations signed a grain-and-fertiliser export agreement in July. The deal aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of Chornomorsk, Odesa and the port of Pivdennyi.

“It was agreed for the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship named Razoni, which is loaded with corn, to depart from the Odesa port at 08:30 in the morning (05:30 GMT) on Aug 1 to go to Lebanon,” Turkey’s defence ministry said in a note. “Deployment of other ships are planned within the scope of the determined corridor and method” as part of the July agreement, it said.

Ukrainian officials have said there were 17 ships docked in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports with almost 600,000 tonnes of cargo. Of them, 16 held Ukrainian grain with a total volume of about 580,000 tonnes.

Russia has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.

On Sunday, Russian missiles pounded Ukraine’s port city Mykolaiv on the Black Sea as President Vladimir Putin signed a new naval doctrine casting the United States as Russia’s main rival and setting maritime ambitions in the Black Sea and Arctic.—Reuters

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