In a move aimed at easing the global food crisis, the first ship carrying grain left the Ukraine port of Odesa today. This comes after a landmark deal, aided by Turkey and the UN, was reached between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian and Turkish officials announced that the ship had left the Southern port of Odesa early on Monday morning.
Ukrainian ports have been blockaded by Russia ever since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and the two countries recently agreed on a deal to resume shipments. It is hoped that the deal will lower the price of grain and ease the global food crisis.
In an announcement, Turkish officials said that the ship, Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, would dock in Lebanon, and that more shipments have been planned for the weeks ahead.
According to the terms of the deal, a Joint Co-ordination Centre has been set up in Istanbul. The Centre announced that the Razoni was expected to arrive in Turkey for inspection by Tuesday, and was estimated to be carrying 26,000 tons of corn.
Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, praised the role of Turkey in the implementation of the agreement, and welcomed the departure of the ship from Odesa.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister, Alexander Kubrakov, stated that Ukraine, along with its allies, had taken a step to prevent global hunger. He added that unlocking of the ports would allow an influx of at least USD1 billion in revenue to the economy, and would provide the agriculture sector with an opportunity to plan for future harvests.
The Minister further stated that an additional 16 ships were awaiting departure from the ports of the Odesa region in the weeks to come.
The landmark deal, which was brokered in conjunction with Turkey and the UN, took almost two months to be finalised, and is valid for the next 120 days, upon which it can be renewed with the agreement of both countries.
The Russian blockade of grain from Ukraine had contributed to a massive global food crisis, leading to a steep increase in the cost of wheat-based products like bread and pasta, in addition to an increase in price of fertiliser and cooking oils.
Jointly, Ukraine and Russia supply nearly a third of the world’s wheat, while Ukraine accounts for 16 percent of the world’s supply of corn and 42 percent of sunflower oil, according to data released by the UN.
Ukraine Foreign Minister describes shipment as a relief
The Foreign Minister of Ukraine described the shipment as a relief for the world, and called upon Russia to respect its part of the agreement.
The terms of the deal specify that Russia will not target ports while shipments are in transit, and Ukraine has agreed that its Navy will assist and guide cargo ships to navigate waters that have been mined.
In order to allay Russian fears of weapons smuggling, the ships will be jointly inspected by Turkey and the UN.
Chormomorsk, Odesa and Pivdenny, all ports in Southern Ukraine, will comprise the focal point of the grain exports.
Odessa Member of Parliament, Oleksiy Goncharenko, stated that he expected shipments to continue leaving from the other ports, while warning that Russia may attempt to disrupt the shipments with military action.