BRUSSELS – The first grain-laden ship to leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports since the Russian invasion began in February made a smooth journey on Tuesday and was due to reach a Turkish port later in the day, while another ship was preparing to follow suit, marking an uneventful first full day in what was a high-risk breakthrough for the warring parties.
The ship, the Razoni, loaded with 26,000 tons of corn, became the first ship to leave Odessa on Monday under an international agreement allowing the safe passage of this cargo. It was guided safely through Ukrainian mined waters by a tug, which completed its escort mission when the bulk carrier reached the edge of Ukraine’s sea borders with Moldova to the south.
The ship, whose crew is mainly made up of Syrians, is bound for the Lebanese port of Tripoli, but will first stop in Turkey to undergo an inspection. Local officials said he was expected to arrive there before midnight.
The Riva Wind, another bulk carrier docked in Odessa since February, has also been loaded with 50,000 tonnes of feed grain and is preparing to depart on its first voyage in nearly six months, its owners said in a statement on Tuesday. More than a dozen other ships await cargo and instructions to sail, Ukrainian authorities said.
Under the international agreement breaking the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports, negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey during intense diplomatic talks that lasted three months, the ships will be inspected by joint teams in Turkish waters. Turkey has said it expects one ship a day to leave Ukrainian ports under the deal.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said ships are likely to be checked entering and leaving the Bosphorus, where they will queue to enter one of the world’s most crucial commercial waterways. Returning ships heading to empty Ukrainian ports to be loaded with more grain will also be inspected before entering the Black Sea through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait, to ensure they are not carrying weapons, in accordance with Russian requirements.
The deal, under which Russia pledged to grant safe passage to ships, was reached last month and initially aims to move more than 20 million tonnes of grain stranded in port storage facilities Ukrainians around Odessa to world markets and then to create a predictable and steady flow of crops.
The quantities are huge and desperately needed worldwide. Ukraine is one of the world’s breadbaskets, and shortages in the Middle East and Africa have fueled runaway inflation and bread shortages, pushing some of the world’s most fragile nations to the brink of famine. .
Ukraine had installed mines on its coastline to suppress a possible Russian amphibious attack. Now, under the agreement to unblock its ports and resume grain trade, Ukraine is providing ship crews with advice on how to navigate mined waters, as well as escorts to help them.
Shipments, if continued at a reasonable pace and safely, have the potential to make a significant difference to the global supply and therefore price of key grains.
“If this corridor proves even reasonably successful, it will go a long way to alleviating grain shortages in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia,” said Michael Magdovitz, senior material analyst. premieres at Rabobank.
“We expect maize exports to more than double from nine million tonnes to 18-22 million tonnes a year if the corridor is even slightly successful,” he added. “To put the additional nine million tonnes of corn exports into perspective, the US and EU almost lost that amount of grain during the recent heat wave.”
Yet experts say that even with the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports, a global food crisis fueled by wars, the economic devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather often worsened by climate change is likely to last.
Eastern safak contributed reporting from Istanbul.