The first cargo ship transporting grain from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began has landed in Turkey for inspection.
The Razoni, which is sailing under the Sierra Leone flag, left the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Monday (August 1) enroute to Tripoli in Lebanon.
Ukraine has been unable to export grain by cargo ship since February 24, due to a blockade in the Black Sea by Russian forces.
In July, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal allowing for grain to be exported from the ports, following months of intensive talks brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey.
It is hoped that the deal will allow for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports: Odesa; Chernomorsk; and Yuzhny.
The Razoni is due to be inspected today (Wednesday, August 3) for prohibited goods by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials before continuing on its journey to Lebanon.
Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov outlined that 26,000t of Ukrainian grain is being transported on the Razoni.
“Ukraine is the fourth-largest corn exporter in the world, so the possibility of exporting it via ports is a colossal success in ensuring global food security,” he said on social media.
“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the [Ukrainian] economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year.
“We are grateful to the partners who, despite the difficulties, did not stop the export preparation work,” he added.
Less than 24 hours after the deal was signed, it was thrown into doubt when two Russian missiles struck Odesa.
Kubrakov said that 16 more ships, which have been blocked from travelling since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, are waiting for their turn to depart Odesa.
“In the coming weeks, with the support of our partners, we plan to reach full capacity of agricultural products transfer,” he said.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres previously hailed the deal as “a beacon of hope, possibility and relief”.
He said that the shipment from Odesa “must be the first of many commercial ships bringing relief to global food markets and hope for the millions of people worldwide who depend on the smooth running of Ukraine’s ports to feed their families”.