The first ship carrying grain has left the Ukrainian port of Odesa since Russia’s invasion as part of a deal to unblock the country’s ports, according to reports.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, tweeted: “The first grain ship since #RussianAggression has left port. Thanks to the support of all our partner countries & UN we were able to fully implement the agreement signed in Istanbul.”
Turkey’s defence ministry also confirmed the news on Monday, saying the cargo ship left the port of Odesa for Lebanon. It is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected and then allowed to proceed.
A statement from the United Nations said that the ship was carrying more than 26,000 tonnes of corn.
UN secretary general António Guterres welcomed the news, saying he hoped many more would follow.
Mr Kubrakov added: “Today, Ukraine, together with partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger. Unlocking ports will provide at least $1bn [£0.8bn] in foreign-exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year.”
Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN, clearing the way for Ukraine to export 22 million tonnes of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion.
According to the UN World Food Programme, the conflict has left as many as 47 million people globally at risk of acute hunger.
The Razoni is the first ship to depart from Odesa since late February. Another 16 ships are awaiting departure, the Ukrainian government has said.