The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain set off from the port of Odesa on Monday under an internationally brokered deal that is expected to release large stores of Ukrainian crops to foreign markets and ease a growing hunger crisis.
The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni left Odesa for Lebanon, Turkey's defense ministry said. A statement from the United Nations said the Razoni was carrying over 26,000 tons of corn.
Data from the Razoni’s Automatic Identification System, a safety tracker for ships at sea, showed the vessel slowly coming out from its berth at Odesa port Monday morning alongside a tug boat.
The ship is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, before being allowed to proceed, the ministry said.
The corn will head to Lebanon, a tiny Mideast nation in the grips of what the World Bank has described as one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years. A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut shattered its capital city and destroyed grain silos there, a part of which collapsed following a weekslong fire just Sunday.
As the Razoni moved toward the open water of the Black Sea, it changed its destination from Istanbul to Tripoli, Lebanon.
“Today Ukraine, together with partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger," said Alexander Kubrakov, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure.
Buckling under the weight of Russia's assault, the temporary hold on Moscow's blockade will provide Ukraine with a needed boost.
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"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.
The Turkish ministry statement said other ships would also depart Ukraine’s ports through the safe corridors in line with deals signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.
Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN clearing the way for Ukraine — one of the world’s key breadbaskets — to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion.
The deals also allow Russia to exports grain and fertilizers.