KYIV — The first ship to carry Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea since Russia invaded Ukraine five months ago left the port of Odesa for Lebanon on Monday under a safe passage deal described as a glimmer of hope in a worsening global food crisis.
The sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertilizer export agreement between Russia and Ukraine last month – a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has become a drawn-out war of attrition.
The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni will head to the port of Tripoli, Lebanon, after transiting Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait linking the Black Sea, which is dominated by Russia’s navy, to the Mediterranean. It is carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn.
But there are still hurdles to overcome before millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain depart from its Black Sea ports, including clearing sea mines and creating a framework for vessels to safely enter the conflict zone and pick up cargoes.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has disrupted global food and energy supplies and the United Nations has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an evening video address, described the shipment as “the fist positive signal that there is a chance to stop the development of a world food crisis.”
Ukraine, known as Europe’s breadbasket, hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain in silos and 40 million tonnes from the harvest now under way, initially from Odesa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk, to help clear the silos for the new crop.
Moscow has denied responsibility for the food…
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