The first ship carrying grain to depart Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion will leave Odesa port at 0530 GMT on Monday under a guaranteed safe passage agreement, Turkey’s defence ministry said, adding that more ships will follow.
The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni, which is loaded with corn, will head to Lebanon, the ministry said.
The ship’s departure was made possible after Moscow, Kyiv, Ankara and the United Nations signed a grain-and-fertiliser export agreement in July. The deal aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of Chornomorsk, Odesa and the port of Pivdennyi.
“It was agreed for the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship named Razoni, which is loaded with corn, to depart from the Odesa port at 0830 in the morning (0530 GMT) on Aug. 1 to go to Lebanon,” Turkey’s defence ministry said in a note.
“Deployment of other ships are planned within the scope of the determined corridor and method” as part of the July 22 agreement, it said.
Ukrainian presidential officials have said there were 17 ships docked in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports with almost 600,000 tonnes of cargo. Of them, 16 vessels held Ukrainian grain with a total tonnage of about 580,000 tonnes.
Ukraine’s shipments via sea have stalled since February, stoking global prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser.
Moscow has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.
A coordination centre was set up in Istanbul to oversee ships departing Ukraine and inspect incoming ships for weapons as part of the agreement. U.N., Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish delegations work at the centre.
Russia and Ukraine are major global wheat suppliers, and the agreement is intended both to ease the food crisis and reduce global grains prices.