More Ukrainian grain shipments under way

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A group of ships carrying grain left Ukrainian ports on Sunday, the second convoy to depart in recent days following a UN-backed agreement late last month to unblock the ports.

The group includes four vessels loaded with almost 170,000 tons of agricultural products, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a tweet early Sunday. He said the cargo includes grain and processed products.

The ships Mustafa Necati, Star Helena and Glory and Riva Wind left Chornomorsk port south of Odesa in Ukraine’s south early in the morning, according to ship tracking website MarineTraffic, but remained close to the coast at 10 a.m. Brussels time. Star Helena is expected to arrive in Istanbul on Monday afternoon, according to the website, while the final destination of the other three ships remains undisclosed.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that three other grain-laden ships left Ukrainian ports on Friday under the UN-backed agreement, Reuters reported. The three vessels were carrying a total of about 58,000 tons of corn, according to the report.  

The Panama-flagged Navistar, carrying 33,000 tons of corn and headed to Ireland, departed from Odesat; the Maltese-flagged Rojen, carrying 13,000 tons of corn, departed from the port of Chornomorsk bound for Britain; and the Turkish-flagged Polarnet set off from Chornomorsk for the Turkish Black Sea port of Karasu carrying 12,000 tons of corn, according to the report.

The Razoni, which left the port of Odesa last Monday, was the first ship to depart carrying Ukrainian grain since the start of Russia’s invasion in February. The Razoni is en route to Lebanon and was expected to arrive on Sunday, but is facing an undefined delay, the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon told Reuters.

Since late February, shipments of grain from Ukraine have been blocked from leaving the country’s ports by Russia. This sparked fears of a global food crisis as prices shot up. In late July, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement with the United Nations and Turkey to guarantee safe passage for the ships carrying Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, a first cargo ship entered Ukrainian waters on Saturday for loading purposes, Kubrakov said. “Our next step is to ensure the ability of Ukrainian ports to handle more than 100 vessels per month,” he said.

This story has been updated.