February 7, 2023

The largest convoy of ships carrying grain and other corn products since the beginning of the Russian invasion set sail from Ukrainian ports on Sunday bound for Europe, Asia and the Middle East through mined waters in the Black Sea.

According to the United Nations, the four ships that left what used to be one of the world’s breadbaskets carried more than 160,000 metric tons – about 176,000 US tons – of agricultural produce.

The ships were carrying 6,000 metric tons of sunflower oil to Italy, 45,000 metric tons of meal to China, 66,000 metric tons of sunflower oil to Iran, and 44,000 metric tons of meal to Iran, said UN spokeswoman Ismini Bala. From corn to Iran. Iskenderun, Turkey.

It said all the ships will dock north of Istanbul and will be inspected by the Joint Coordination Center, an office where high-level representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations work together to enable the safe transportation of grain, food and fertilizer.

According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, one ship has departed from Odessa and three from the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk. An empty ship also entered Ukrainian territorial waters on Saturday, the first ship to arrive in Ukraine for loading, Oleksandr Kobrakov, Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, said, He said in a tweet.

The operation was part of a deal struck in late July to enable more than 20 million tons of Ukrainian products to leave the besieged country for worldwide distribution, generating revenue for Ukraine and helping stem a looming global hunger crisis.

Four more ships have already departed this week with more than 80,000 metric tons of products for delivery to Britain, Ireland, Turkey and Lebanon. On Sunday, the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon, where the first boat, the Razzoni, was expected to arrive, told Reuters the ship was delayed.

Mr. Kubrakov said the government is gradually moving to enable ports to handle larger volumes of work, targeting at least 100 vessels per month in the near future.

Experts said the issues affecting food markets are still far from resolved, with the food crisis already growing to such dimensions that no single intervention can resolve it.

However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the delivery of Ukraine’s grain stores was a “humanitarian necessity” which he hoped would “bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security”.

Nemet Kirach contributed to this report.

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