For the first time since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, a ship with grain has left the port of Odessa. After the launch was announced for 7.30 a.m. CEST, the cargo ship "Razoni" set off across the Black Sea towards Lebanon at 8.18 a.m. CEST in the morning. According to official figures, it loaded around 26,000 tons of corn.
Arrival in Istanbul is delayed
According to Turkish information, the "Razoni", flying the flag of the West African country of Sierra Leone, will arrive in Istanbul later than initially expected. The Ministry of Defense announced that the arrival would not be expected until Wednesday night. Minister Hulusi Akar initially spoke of an arrival on Tuesday afternoon (2 p.m.). The ship is expected to be inspected on Wednesday morning, it said. The ministry did not provide any information about the reason for the delay.
According to Ukrainian information, 16 other ships are already waiting in the Black Sea ports to be able to cast off.
Russia welcomes grain exports
Russia has welcomed the start of grain exports. "That's pretty positive," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. "It's a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of the working mechanisms agreed at the Istanbul negotiations."
"We want to hope that the agreements will be fulfilled by all sides and that the mechanisms will work effectively," said Peskov. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the ship will first make a stopover in Istanbul on August 2, where it will be checked. Ukraine also welcomed the resumption of transport as a step in the fight against world hunger.
With the delivery, millions of tons of grain should once again be available for the world market. Before the Russian war of aggression, Ukraine was one of the most important grain exporters in the world. For them, it's about billions in revenue from the sale of wheat and corn, among other things.
The leadership in Kyiv rated the resumption of grain exports as a great success. "Today, together with partners, Ukraine is taking another step towards preventing world hunger," Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the launch of the first cargo ship. "I thank our ally Turkey for its central role," wrote the Norwegian on Monday via the short message service Twitter. Allies support the full implementation of the agreement to alleviate the global food crisis. This was caused by Russia's war against Ukraine.
The federal government also welcomed the departure of the cargo ship. "This is a glimmer of hope in an escalating food crisis," said Foreign Office spokesman Christofer Burger at the federal press conference in Berlin. Now it is important that the grain agreement continues to be filled with life and that more ships can sail.
avert the world food crisis
According to the EU, the resumption of grain exports is a first step towards alleviating the world food crisis triggered by Russia's war. It is now expected that the agreement will be fully implemented and that Ukrainian exports to customers around the world will resume, said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels.
This is necessary because the negative consequences of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the blockade of Ukrainian ports are affecting the most vulnerable people in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Russia not only blocked Ukrainian ports, but also mined or destroyed fields, destroyed silos and burned grain.
War opponents Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement with Turkey separately on July 22, through the mediation of the United Nations, in Istanbul to allow grain exports from Ukraine from three ports. According to Ukrainian sources, more than 20 million tons of grain from last year's harvest are still waiting to be exported. The silos urgently need to be cleared because of the new harvest.
Port operations were suspended for security reasons after the Russian invasion at the end of February. Moscow has been accused of blocking Ukrainian grain exports. In the agreement, Russia has now pledged to allow ships to sail along a sea corridor and not to attack them or the ports involved.
Ships are controlled in Istanbul
The freighter "Razoni" and all following ships are monitored from a control center in Istanbul. This is staffed by representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey. The Bosphorus Strait, which runs through Istanbul, is the only sea route from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey has sovereignty over the Bosphorus.
Ships are to be inspected when entering and exiting the Black Sea. At the request of Russia, it should be ensured that the ships have no weapons or the like on board. Russia fears that Ukraine will buy weapons from the proceeds of grain sales.
The agreement covers the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny (Pivdennyj). The reopening of the three ports could bring Ukraine's economy at least $1 billion (around €980 million) and enable planning in the agricultural sector, Ukrainian Minister Kubrakov said. In addition to the 16 ships that were waiting, the Ukrainian authorities have now received requests for the arrival of more ships, which are also to be loaded with agricultural products.
Russia had shelled the port of Odessa just a day after the agreement reached in Istanbul, prompting concerns that the grain deal could collapse.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter that he hopes exports will now continue without interruptions and problems and "the agreement will lead to a ceasefire and lasting peace". When they signed the agreement with Russia and Ukraine, the UN and Turkey spoke of a sign of hope in times of war.
Food from Ukraine is urgently needed on the world market - especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The United Nations recently warned of the worst famine in decades.