The first shipment of Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday under a deal aimed at relieving a global food crisis following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, the Turkish defence ministry said.
“The ship Razoni has left the port of Odessa bound for Tripoli in Lebanon. It is expected in Istanbul on August 2. It will then continue its journey after it has been inspected in Istanbul,” the ministry said.
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The vessel was carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn, according to Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
It was expected to reach the mouth of the Bosphorus on Tuesday at around midday, according to Yoruk Isik, an expert on ship movements on the Bosphorus Strait and in the region.
Other convoys would follow, respecting the maritime corridor and the agreed formalities in line with the agreement reached with Russia on July 22, Turkey said.
Built in 1996 and measuring 186 metres (610 feet) in length and 25 metres in width, the Razoni, which is flying under the Sierra Leone flag, has a capacity of 30,000 tonnes.
On July 22, Ukraine and Russia signed a landmark deal with Turkey and the United Nations aimed at easing a global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain deliveries.
Turkey formally opened a special joint coordination centre in Istanbul last Wednesday to oversee the exports. The centre is being staffed by civilian and military officials from the two warring parties and delegates from Turkey and the UN.
Their primary assignment involves monitoring the safe passage of Ukrainian grain ships along established routes and overseeing their inspection for banned weapons on the way into and out of the Black Sea.
The blockage of deliveries from two of the world’s biggest grain exporters has contributed to a spike in prices that has made food imports prohibitively expensive for some of the world’s poorest countries.
UN estimates say nearly 50 million people began to face “acute hunger” around the world as a direct consequence of the war.
Wheat prices fell sharply hours after the grain deal was signed. (AFP)