First grain ship leaves Ukraine after months-long blockade

First grain ship leaves Ukraine after months-long blockade

A ship loaded with grain supplies has left the Port of Odesa in Ukraine for the first time since the start of the war against Russia.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure has reported that the ship set sail from the port at 9.15 am Kyiv time on 1 August.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni was loaded with 26,000 tons of corn and is heading towards the Port of Tripoli, Lebanon.

The news comes after weeks of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to sign a deal for the re-opening of Black Sea ports. The deal, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations (UN), was signed on 22 July.

READ: Russia strikes Ukrainian Port of Odesa hours after signing grain deal

“Today, Ukraine and its partners are taking another step towards preventing world hunger,” reads the official statement from the Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov.

“Unblocking the ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for the next year.

“We are grateful to our partners who, despite the difficulties, did not stop the work on preparation for export. For its part, Ukraine did everything to restore the operation of ports and all involved enterprises.”

Another 16 ships are waiting to depart Ukraine’s ports through safe corridors in line with signed agreements, Kubrakov added.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, applauded the news stating it would help test the “efficiency of the mechanisms that were agreed during the talks in Istanbul.”

Ukraine’s seaports have been blockaded by Russia’s fleet since conflict began earlier February this year, causing global shipping prices to soar as Ukraine is one of the largest exporters of grain.

Last month, Russian armed forces withdrew from the key outpost on Snake Island in the Black Sea – opening up the first gateway for Ukraine ports operations to resume.

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