First grain ship leaves Ukraine under landmark Russia deal

1 August 2022, 08:52

The Razoni left Odesa with more than 26,000 tons on board
The Razoni left Odesa with more than 26,000 tons on board. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has set off from the port of Odesa following a crucial deal with Russia to lift a blockade of the country's ports that has been in place since February.

Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship, Razoni left the port of Odesa for Lebanon and it is hoped the deal will ease the global food crisis and help lower the price of grain.

A statement from the United Nations said the Razoni is carrying more than 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.

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The corn will then head to Lebanon. A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut shattered its capital city and destroyed grain silos there, a part of which collapsed on Sunday following a long fire.

"Today Ukraine, together with partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger," said Alexander Kubrakov, the Ukrainian minister of infrastructure.

He said it would also help Ukraine.

"Unlocking ports will provide at least one billion dollars (£0.8 billion) in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year," Mr 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 suppliers - 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 fertilisers.