The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain leaves the port of Odessa

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain sailed from Odessa port on Monday under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, which is expected to release large stocks of Ukrainian crops to overseas markets and quell growing appetite . Problem.

Turkey’s defense ministry said the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Rajoni left Odessa for Lebanon. A UN statement said Rajoni was carrying more than 26,000 tonnes of corn.

Data from Rajoni’s Automatic Identification System, a safety tracker for ships at sea, showed the ship was slowly coming out of its berth at Odessa port with a tug boat.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, tweeted a video of a long cargo ship honking its horn as it headed towards the sea.

“First grain ship leaves port since Russian invasion,” Kubrakov said on Twitter. “Thanks to the support of all our allies and the United Nations, we were able to fully implement the agreement signed in Istanbul. It is important for us to be one of the guarantors of food security.”

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

The World Bank headed the corn for Lebanon, a small Middle East nation 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 and destroyed grain silos there, part of which collapsed on Sunday after a week of fires.

As Rajoni moved towards the open waters of the Black Sea, he changed his destination from Istanbul to Tripoli, Lebanon.

The Turkish ministry statement said other ships would also depart from Ukraine’s ports via secure corridors in line with the deals signed in Istanbul on 22 July, but did not give further details.

Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the United Nations, clearing the way for Ukraine – one of the world’s leading breadbakers – to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that are part of Russia’s economy. The Black Sea ports are stuck due to the invasion.

The deals also allow the export of grain and fertilizers to Russia.

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said 16 more ships, blocked since the start of Russia’s full-scale offensive on February 24, were awaiting their turn in the ports of Odessa.

Kubrakov said the shipment would also help Ukraine’s war-torn economy.

“Opening up the ports will give the economy at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue and the agriculture sector the opportunity to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.

The United Nations welcomed the development, saying in a statement that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expects it to be the first of several commercial ships carrying Ukrainian grain abroad and “is of great importance to global food security, especially in the most critical situations”. will bring the necessary stability and relief in the human context.”

The resumption of grain shipments followed fierce fighting elsewhere in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s presidential office said at least three civilians were killed and 16 others wounded in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region over the past 24 hours.

Donetsk government Pavlo Kyrylenko reiterated a strong call to evacuate all residents. He particularly stressed the need to evacuate the approximately 52,000 children left in the region.

Two people were injured in a Russian attack in Kharkiv this morning. One was injured while waiting for a bus at a stop, and another was injured when a Russian shell exploded near an apartment building.

The southern city of Mykolaiv also faced repeated shelling, causing a fire near a medical facility, destroying a shipment of humanitarian aid containing medicines and food.

Analysts warned that the ongoing fight could jeopardize the grain deal, which could upset customers.

“The danger remains: the Odessa region has faced constant shelling and only regular supplies can prove the viability of the signed agreements,” said Volodymyr Sydenko, an expert at the Razumkov Center think-tank in Kyiv.

“The departure of the first ship does not solve the food crisis, it is just the first step that could also be the last if Russia decides to continue attacks in the south.”

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John Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed.

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