The first Ukrainian grain shipment set sail on Monday from the port of Odesa under a United Nations-brokered deal that lets Ukraine transport food into foreign markets.
In an attempt to ease the ever-growing global food crisis, the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni sailed toward Lebanon while carrying a staggering 26,000 tons of corn, according to The Associated Press.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who had proposed the deal, gave an optimistic assessment of the situation, saying the Razoni was “loaded with two commodities in short supply: corn and hope.”
“Hope for millions of people around the world who depend on the smooth running of Ukraine’s ports to feed their families,” he said, according to the AP.
A moment: The Razoni making her way out of the port of Odesa with 26,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain.
A small but significant start . pic.twitter.com/7CpoaoqtdM
— James Waterhouse (@JamWaterhouse) August 1, 2022
Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov also gave his endorsement on social media.
“The first grain ship since Russian aggression has left port,” 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 full implement the Agreement signed in Istanbul. It’s important for us to be one of the guarantors of 🌏 food security. pic.twitter.com/jOz3bdmdfB
— Oleksandr Kubrakov (@OlKubrakov) August 1, 2022
“Today Ukraine, together with partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger,” he said on Facebook.
“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the ship’s departure as “very positive,” according to the AP.
The United Nations and Turkey had signed agreements with Russia and Ukraine in Instanbul on July 22.
The deal gave an opportunity for Ukraine to reopen its Black Sea ports, which have not been used since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February, and to allow ships to transport over 22 million tons of grain, cooking oil and fertilizer that have been stuck there, according to the AP and NPR.
The agreement additionally allowed safe corridors through the mined waters outside Ukraine’s ports.
According to Ukrainian authorities, 16 other vessels were poised to leave from Ukraine’s ports through the safe corridors.
The deal also allows Russia to export grain and fertilizer.
Despite many praising the outcome of the agreement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy evoked some suspicion regarding Russia’s actions.
While he called it “the first positive signal that there is a chance to stop the spread of a food crisis in the world,” Zelenskyy also urged his allies to not let their guard down and to closely observe Moscow’s compliance with the deal.
“We cannot have the illusions that Russia will simply refrain from trying to disrupt Ukrainian exports,” he said, according to the AP.
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