Ukraine grain export cargoes might soon start flowing more rapidly. In a hopeful sign the Turkish Ministry of National Defense reports that the first ship to depart Ukraine with an export cargo of grain since the Russian invasion is on its way to Lebanon after passing inspection.
The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni arrived in Istanbul’s waters on Tuesday evening, after sailing from Ukraine’s main Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday.
“A joint civilian inspection team comprising officials from the Russian Federation, Türkiye, Ukraine and the United Nations visited the merchant vessel Razoni this morning,” the Black Sea Grain Initiative Joint Coordination Center (JCC) said in a statement.
“This marks the conclusion of an initial ‘proof of concept’ operation,” the statement continued, adding that three ports in Ukraine were due to resume the export of millions of tonnes of wheat, corn and other crops “at a time of global food insecurity.”
In addition to shipping millions of tonnes of Ukraine grain export cargoes, the initiative also envisages the export of fertilizer needed by the world’s farmers, “under close monitoring,” the Joint Coordination Center statement said.
It noted that the inspectors had spoken to the Razoni’s crew and gained “valuable information” about the vessel’s journey along the maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea that was agreed by the signatories of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
“The JCC will use this voyage in its ongoing work on fine-tuning procedures and processes to enable the continuation of safe passage of commercial vessels across the Black Sea under the Initiative,” the statement said.
HOW MANY SHIPS WILL FOLLOW?
After the first successful inspection, Reuters reports a senior Turkish official, who requested anonymity, as saying three ships may leave from any of the three Black Sea ports of Odesa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk every day, instead of the previously planned one.
The news agency quoted U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric as saying that more outbound movement was being planned from Ukraine for today (Wednesday), adding that about 27 ships were covered by the export deal.