KYIV: The first ship to carry Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea since Russian war on Ukraine five months ago left the port of Odesa for Lebanon on Monday under a safe passage deal described as a glimmer of hope in a worsening global food crisis.
The sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain-and-fertiliser export agreement between Russia and Ukraine last month — a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has become a drawn-out war of attrition. The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni will head to the port of Tripoli, Lebanon, after transiting the Bosphorus Strait linking the Black Sea, which is dominated by Russia’s navy, to the Mediterranean. It is carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn.
Russia’s war on Ukraine on February 24 has led to a worldwide food and energy crisis and the United Nations has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hoped Tuesday’s departure would be the first of many such cargoes and that the UN would charter a ship to replenish supplies of aid.
“People on the verge of famine need these agreements to work, in order to survive,” Guterres told reporters in New York. “Countries on the verge of bankruptcy need these agreements to work, in order to keep their economies alive.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
Ukraine and Russia are leading world grain suppliers and between them account for nearly a third of global wheat exports. The deal aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of Odesa and nearby Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi. — Reuters