Four cargo ships sail from Ukraine after UN, Turkey brokered deal amid Russia’s invasion

KYIV: Four ships carrying Ukrainian food sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday (Aug 7) as part of a deal to unblock the country’s sea exports, Ukrainian and Turkish officials said.

The four bulk carriers were loaded with almost 170,000 tonnes of corn and other food, Ukraine’s sea ports authority said on Facebook.

The resumption of grain exports is being overseen by a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel are working.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the deal last month. The UN had warned of possible outbreaks of famine in parts of the world due to a halt in grain shipments from Ukraine that squeezed supplies and sent prices soaring.

On Saturday, a foreign-flagged ship arrived in Ukraine for the first time since the war started in February to be loaded with grain, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

“We are gradually moving on to larger volumes of work. We plan to ensure the ability of the ports to handle at least 100 vessels per month in the near future,” he said on Facebook on Sunday.

He said Ukraine soon plans to use Pivdennyi port in the implementation of the grain export initiative. He expects that as a result, Ukraine will be able to ship at least 3 million tonnes of goods a month.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia and Ukraine together accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports. Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation”.

The JCC said late on Saturday it has authorised the departure of five new vessels through the Black Sea corridor: Four vessels outbound from Chornomorsk and Odesa carrying 161,084 metric tonnes of food, and one inbound.

The ships that have left Ukrainian ports included Glory, with a cargo of 66,000 tonnes of corn bound for Istanbul, and Riva Wind, loaded with 44,000 tonnes of corn, headed for Turkey’s Iskenderun, the Turkish defence ministry said.

It said the other two vessels to have left Ukraine were Star Helena, with a cargo of 45,000 tonnes of meal heading to China, and Mustafa Necati, carrying 6,000 tonnes of sunflower oil and heading for Italy.