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The first Ukrainian grain ship leaves Odesa after months of Russian blockade

The bulk carrier M/V Razoni leaves Ukraine's port of Odesa on Monday.
Oleksandr Gimanov
/
AFP via Getty Images
The bulk carrier M/V Razoni leaves Ukraine's port of Odesa on Monday.

The milestone comes after the U.N. and Turkey signed agreements with Russia and Ukraine to resume exports. The U.N. had pushed for a deal to address a growing global food shortage.

ANKARA, Turkey —The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has set off from the port of Odesa, Turkey's defense ministry said Monday.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship, Razoni left the port of Odesa for Lebanon, the ministry said. A statement from the United Nations said the Razoni is carrying over 26,000 tons of corn.

Data from the Razoni's Automatic Identification System, a safety tracker for ships at sea, showed the vessel slowly coming out from its berth at Odesa port Monday morning alongside a tug boat.

The ship is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, before being allowed to proceed, the ministry said.

The corn will head to Lebanon, a tiny Mideast nation in the grips of what the World Bank has described as one of the world's worst financial crises in more than 150 years. A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut shattered its capital city and destroyed grain silos there, a part of which collapsed following a weekslong fire just Sunday.

"Today Ukraine, together with partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger," said Alexander Kubrakov, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure.

He said it would also help Ukraine.

"Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year," Kubrakov said.

The Turkish ministry statement said other ships would also depart Ukraine's ports through the safe corridors in line with deals signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.

Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the U.N. clearing the way for Ukraine — one of the world's key breadbaskets — to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of Russia's invasion.

The deals also allow Russia to exports grain and fertilizers.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joanna Kakissis