Ukraine war: First grain shipment leaves the port of Odesa

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The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has left the port of Odesa, Turkey’s defence ministry said Monday.

“It was agreed for the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship named Razoni, which is loaded with corn, to depart from the Odesa port at 0830 in the morning (0530 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 22 agreement, it added.

A statement from the United Nations said the Razoni is carrying over 26,000 tonnes of corn.

The ship is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, before being allowed to proceed to Lebanon, the ministry added.

In June, Turkey and the United Nations brokered a deal with Russia and Ukraine designed to help relieve a global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain exports.

It was the first major deal between the warring sides since Russia’s February invasion of its neighbour, and comes as global food prices have soared, and people in some of the world’s poorest countries are facing starvation.

Kyiv and Moscow signed two identical but separate documents at the request of Ukraine, which refused to initial any document with Russia.

Under the agreement, “safe corridors” allow the movement of cargo ships in the Black Sea, which “both sides have committed not to attack,” said a UN official who requested anonymity.

Negotiators abandoned the idea of clearing the Black Sea of mines — mainly laid by the Ukrainians to protect their coastline. “Clearing mines would have taken too long,” the UN said, adding that “Ukrainian pilots” would clear the way for cargo ships within Kyiv’s territorial waters.

But the deal was put in jeopardy within hours of being signed, when Russia bombed the Ukrainian port of Odesa. And more recently a Russian strike killed one of Ukraine’s richest businessmen who worked in grain exports – with Kyiv calling it a targeted killing.