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First grain shipment leaves Ukraine, needs buyer

The first ship carrying grain left the Ukrainian port of Odessa under the landmark agreement it signed with Russia in Istanbul on July 22. Ukraine has been unable to export its grains since the beginning of the war in February.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni left for Lebanon with over 26,000 tons of corn. Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov announced the ship’s departure on August 1 in a post on Twitter: “Thanks to the support of all our partner countries & @UN, we were able to fully implement the Agreement signed in Istanbul.”

International leaders cautiously welcomed this necessary trade deal. A week after its departure, the Razoni was still anchored in Turkey. Currently, it sails the Mediterranean Sea. Its final destination remains unclear, as Lebanon refused the cargo. Ukraine’s Embassy in Beirut shed light on the reasons for it, on August 8: “According to the information of the shipper, the final buyer in Lebanon refused to accept the cargo due to delay of delivery terms (more than five months). So, the shipper is now looking for another consignee. It can either be in Lebanon or another country,” its Twitter post reads.

The agreements established safe corridors through the mined waters outside Ukraine’s ports, allowing Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion, Associated Press reports. The deals also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer.

Kubrakov said he expected to see between one and three vessels going in both directions in the next few weeks. They will be navigating dangerous waters, with mines dating back to WW2, in addition to the ones that sunk in the Black Sea since the war in Ukraine started.

In addition, there are concerns that, while ships may be able to leave Ukraine with tons of grain, they might not be able to get affordable insurance to return for another load, BBC highlighted.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the shipment a “relief for the world” and urged Moscow to “respect its part of the deal”. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that the ship’s departure was a “very positive” development, BBC reports.

Photo: Embassy of Ukraine in Lebanon, Twitter: @UKRinLBN