Ukraine makes first grain shipment since invading Russia in key milestone

Ukraine has made its first grain shipment since the invasion of Russia, marking a small but crucial first step towards unlocking the millions of tonnes of grain piling up in the country and increasing food supplies global.

The Razoni, a freighter loaded with 26,527 tons of maize, left for Lebanon on Monday morning, according to the United Nations, which, together with Turkey, helped broker the deal to boost exports. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov confirmed the departure and said another 16 ships in the greater Odessa region were waiting their turn to sail.

Prevent global famine with @UN, @EU_Commission, #G7. The first ship left the port of Odessa since 24.02.2022
— Oleksandr Kubrakov (@OlKubrakov) August 1, 2022

Ukraine is one of the biggest suppliers of wheat, maize and vegetable oil and the loss of exports through its Black Sea ports has rattled global food trade and raised the threat of a food crisis world. The Razoni represents a milestone under the July 22 agreement to create safe shipping corridors through three of Ukraine’s ports, although it is unclear how quickly exports may increase.

Dozens of ships are stranded in ports scattered along the Black Sea and should start going out in “caravans” if all goes well. However, shipowners will have to take out insurance for cargoes and ships, and also find enough crew to sail them. A Russian attack on the seaport of Odessa with cruise missiles hours after the deal was signed earlier raised questions about its involvement.

Lloyd’s of London’s Ascot and Marsh provide insurance for Ukrainian shipping corridor

“Ensuring that existing grains and foodstuffs can get to global markets is a humanitarian imperative,” a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “The Secretary-General hopes this will be the first of many commercial vessels to move under the initiative.”

The World Food Program also plans to buy, load and ship 30,000 tonnes of wheat from Ukraine on a UN-chartered vessel, with more details expected in the coming days, the UN said.

Ukraine hopes to reach full transport capacity for agricultural products within weeks, Kubrakov wrote.

The Razoni is expected to arrive in Istanbul on Tuesday, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry. The agreement provided for monitoring by a joint coordination center in Istanbul, with representatives of all parties.

–With the help of Taylan Bilgic, Abdel Latif Wahba and Áine Quinn.

Photograph: The bulk carrier M/V Razoni, carrying a cargo of 26,000 tons of corn, leaves the Ukrainian port of Odessa, en route to Tripoli in Lebanon, August 1, 2022. Photo credit: Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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