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The first grain ship from Ukraine leaves for Lebanon after the signing of the agreement with Russia

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A first grain-carrying ship left the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday morning following the signing of a historic deal with Russia, Ukrainian and Turkish officials confirmed.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has been blockading Ukrainian ports, but both sides signed a pact in mid-July to resume exports.

The deal is expected to ease the global food crisis and help reduce grain prices.

Turkey said the Razoni, a Sierra Leone-flagged ship, would dock at the port of Tripoli in Lebanon, noting that more shipments were being planned in the coming weeks.

The Joint Coordination Center, established in Istanbul, Turkey, after the agreement that made the ship’s departure possible, ensures that it is carrying some 26,000 tons of corn and is expected to arrive in Turkish waters on Tuesday for inspection.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the ship’s departure and praised Turkey for its role in working to implement the deal.

“Today, Ukraine, together with its partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Alexander Kubrakov wrote on Facebook.

“The unblocking of ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for the coming year,” he added.

While Razoni’s inching into a mine-infested Black Sea represents a significant step forward, the operation will have to last a long time for Ukraine’s currently devastated economy and tens of millions of people around the world. the world see its fruits.

“A Relief to the World”

But Kubrakov stressed that another 16 ships were expected to depart from ports in the Odessa region in the coming weeks.

The agreement signed last month and negotiated with the UN and Turkey took two months to achieve. It is scheduled to last 120 days, but can be renewed if both parties agree.

The blockade of Ukrainian grain exports has contributed to a global food crisis that has made wheat-based products, such as bread and pasta, increasingly expensive.

The prices of cooking oils and fertilizers have also increased.

Russia and Ukraine together account for almost a third of world wheat supplies. In 2019, Ukraine produced 16% of the world’s corn supply and 42% of sunflower oil, according to UN data.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the shipment a “relief to the world” and urged Moscow to “respect its part of the treaty.” For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a group of journalists in Moscow that the ship’s departure is a “very positive” development.

Under the terms of the deal, Russia has agreed not to bombard Ukrainian ports while shipments are being made, while Ukraine has agreed that its warships will guide cargo ships through waters that have been mined.

Turkey, with the support of the United Nations, will inspect the ships to allay Russia ‘s fears that Ukraine will use them for arms smuggling.

Three ports in southern Ukraine, Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdenny, are expected to be the focal point for exports. But there remains little trust between officials in Kyiv and in Moscow, after last month, less than 24 hours after the agreement was signed, Russia launched two missiles that landed in the port of Odessa.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack showed Moscow could not be trusted to honor the deal. But the Kremlin said the attack was aimed at a Ukrainian naval ship docked in the port and insisted the attack did not affect the pact.

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