Ukraine’s massive backlog of grain is moving out of port: For the first time in more than five months, a cargo ship loaded with grain left a Ukrainian port bound for the Middle East. The shipment happened thanks to a Kyiv-Moscow deal sponsored by the United Nations and Turkey.
Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said, “The first grain ship since Russian aggression has left port,” in a Twitter video post that showed the cargo ship slowly pulling away from the dock.
Kubrakov later posted on Facebook, stating that Ukraine is the fourth-largest corn exporter in the world, “so the possibility of exporting it via ports is a colossal success in ensuring global food security.”
“Today, Ukraine, together with partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger,” he added.
The Joint Coordination Center, which was organized by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations to coordinate and oversee grain shipments from Ukraine, has said it is closely monitoring the safe passage of the merchant ship, which departed the port of Odesa earlier on Monday.
A Monday statement from the JCC on the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative said it had “authorized the M/V Razoni to sail from the port of Odesa today.” The M/V Razoni, which is flagged in Sierra Leone, is carrying 26,000 tons of corn, with the ultimate destination of Tripoli, Lebanon.
A Lifeline for Famished Nations
The cargo ship must follow strict coordinates that follow the humanitarian corridor as specified in the agreement. All countries must notify their governments and militaries to ensure the safe passage of the vessel and those that will soon follow.
The ship is expected to reach the Turkish port of Istanbul tomorrow afternoon. There, a team of inspectors from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN will ensure that there are no weapons or explosives on board. Once cleared, it will then proceed to its final destination.
There are 16 more ships waiting to leave Odesa in the coming days. The World Bank has described Lebanon as being mired in one of the world’s worst financial crises of the last 150 years. A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut shattered the capital city. It destroyed grain silos there, and more parts of silos collapsed just this weekend, following a weekslong fire.
Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that the global food crisis could result in “a serious wave of migration from Africa to Europe and to Turkey.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the world has been plunged into a food and energy crisis, with the UN stating that there could be multiple famines in the globe’s hardest-hit areas. Ukraine and Russia account for about a third of the world’s wheat exports. But Western sanctions have blocked Moscow’s exports, while Russia has effectively shut down Ukrainian access to the Black Sea.
Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, joined other G7 representatives and UN officials, to observe the departure of the first cargo ship laden with grain. She praised the trip.
“Progress in getting grain to feed millions around the world – the first vessel departs from one of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, thanks to the tireless efforts by the UN, Turkey, and the negotiating team in Istanbul and the patient work of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov characterized the first ship’s departure as “very positive,” adding it would help test the “efficiency of the mechanisms that were agreed during the talks in Istanbul.”
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO, and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.