A ship carrying grain finally left the Ukrainian port Odesa under a safe passage agreement, making it the first departure since the Russian invasion blocked all shipping through the Black Sea.
Ukrainian and Turkish officials confirmed that the first Ukraine grain ship bound for Lebanon left the port and that more ships are to follow.
Ukraine’s foreign minister called it “a day of relief for the world,”, especially for countries threatened by food shortages and hunger because of the disrupted shipments.
The shipment was made possible after the United Nations and Turkey brokered a new agreement between Russia and Ukraine for grain and fertilizer exports.
It represented a rare diplomatic breakthrough in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which continues with no resolution or end in sight.
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said “The first grain ship since #RussianAggression has left the port. Today Ukraine, together with its partners, makes another step to prevent world hunger.”
The ship, named Razoni, is headed to Lebanon, after transiting through the Bosporus Strait.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, it also created a massive worldwide food and energy crisis. The United Nations has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year because of it.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat exports. But Western sanctions on Russia and fighting along Ukraine’s eastern seaboard had prevented grain ships from safely leaving ports.
The European Union and NATO welcomed today the departure of the grain shipment as a “first step” towards easing the food crisis caused by the Russian invasion.
But EU spokesman Peter Stano said Brussels still expects the “implementation of the whole deal and resumption of Ukrainian exports to the customers around the world.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also separately said that western allies “strongly support the full implementation of the deal to ease the global food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine”.
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