Ukraine’s first grain ship since the beginning of the war leaves Odessa


A ship carrying grain left Ukraine’s Odessa port for foreign markets on Monday under a safe passage deal, a Ukrainian minister said, the first departure since the Russian invasion blocked shipping through the Black Sea five months ago.

The sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertilizer export deal between Russia and Ukraine last month.

“The first grain ship since #RussianAggression has left port. Thanks to the support of all our partner countries and @UN, we were able to fully implement the agreement signed in Istanbul,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.

Turkey’s defense minister earlier said the Sierra Leonean-flagged ship Razoni, loaded with corn, will head to Lebanon. Other ships would follow, it said.

Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has sparked a global food and energy crisis, and the United Nations has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year.

Almost a third of global wheat exports go to Russia and Ukraine. But Western sanctions against Russia and fighting along Ukraine’s east coast have prevented grain ships from safely leaving ports.

The agreement aims to provide safe passage for grain shipments to and from Chornomorsk, Odessa and the port of Pivdennyi.

Ukrainian presidential officials said 17 ships carrying nearly 600,000 tons of cargo were docked in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Of these, 16 ships contained Ukrainian grain with a total tonnage of about 580,000 tons.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.

bombing of ports

Despite the breakthrough in grain shipments, the war continued elsewhere.

Russian missiles hit Mykolayiv on Sunday, a port city on the Black Sea estuary of the Bug River, which borders the largely Russian-held Kherson region.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said more than 12 rocket attacks — likely the strongest in the city in five months of war — hit homes and schools, killing two people and wounding three.

Ukrainian grain magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of agricultural company Nibulon, and his wife were killed in their home, Mykolaiv governor Vitaliy Kim told Telegram.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Vadatursky’s death “a great loss for all of Ukraine”.

Zelenskiy said the businessman – one of Ukraine’s richest, with Forbes putting his 2021 net worth at $430 million – has built a modern grain market with a network of transhipment terminals and elevators.

“It is these people, these companies, especially southern Ukraine, that have guaranteed the world’s food security,” Zelenskyy said in his late-night speech. “It was always like that. And it will be like that again.”

Zelenskiy said Ukraine may harvest half of its usual amount this year due to the war disrupting agriculture. Farmers have reported trying to harvest between Russian shelling of their fields and nearby towns and villages.

Zelenskyi said Russia has moved some forces from the eastern Donbass region to the southern Kherson and Zaporizhia regions.

After failing to quickly seize the capital, Kyiv, early in the war, Russia has turned its forces toward eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine in a so-called “special operation” to demilitarize its neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as an unfounded pretext for war.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and Kyiv says Moscow is trying to do the same with the Donbass region, linking it to Crimea to the south. Before the invasion, Russian-backed separatists controlled parts of the region. Ukraine’s first grain ship since the beginning of the war leaves Odessa

Fry Electronics Team

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