The first Ukraine grain ship since the beginning of the war leaves Odessa

  • First Ukraine grain ship bound for Lebanon
  • Turkey says more ships to follow
  • Mykolaiv. Port of Russian Missile Pound

KYIV, Aug 1 (Reuters) – A grain-carrying ship sailed for Lebanon from the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday under a safe passage agreement, Ukrainian and Turkish officials said, the first departure since the Russian offensive in five months. Previously blocked shipping through the Black Sea. ,

Ukraine’s foreign minister called it a “day of relief for the world”, especially for countries suffering from food shortages and hunger due to disrupted shipments.

The sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations signed a grain and fertilizer export agreement between Russia and Ukraine last month.

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“The first grain ship has left the port since the Russian invasion,” said infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. “Today Ukraine, along with its allies, takes another step to stop world hunger.”

Turkey’s defense minister had earlier said that the Sierra Leone-flagged ship Rajoni would leave for Lebanon.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has triggered a worldwide food and energy crisis and the United Nations has warned of the risk of several famines this year.

Russia and Ukraine account for about a third of global wheat exports. But Western sanctions on Russia and fighting on Ukraine’s eastern seaboard have prevented grain ships from safely leaving ports.

The deal is intended to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of the port of Odessa, Kornomorsk and Pivdnenny.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on Twitter: “A day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odessa after months of Russian blockade”.

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Moscow has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports, and Ukraine mining for its ports.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Rajoni would anchor in the Bosphorus in Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon and be inspected by a joint team of Russian, Ukrainian, United Nations and Turkish representatives.

“This will continue till there is a problem,” Akar said.

Ukraine’s presidential officials have said 17 ships have been docked in Black Sea ports with about 600,000 tons of cargo, mostly grain.

Kubrakov said that more ships would follow. He said opening the ports would provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue for Ukraine’s economy and allow the agriculture sector to plan for next year’s sowing season.

The US embassy in Kyiv welcomed the resumption of shipping, saying: “The world will be looking forward to the continued implementation of this agreement to feed people around the world with millions of tons of stranded Ukrainian grain.”

bombing in the south and east

Despite the success in grain shipments, the war is on the ground elsewhere.

Regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said three civilians were killed by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region in the past 24 hours – two in Bakhmut and one in nearby Soledar.

An important industrial city and transportation hub, Bakhmut has been under Russian bombardment for the past week as Kremlin forces try to capture all of Donetsk.

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It is connected to the cities of Lisichansk and Svyarodonetsk in the Luhansk region, which is occupied by almost all of Russia. Luhansk Governor Serhi Gaidai said the road was crucial for delivering weapons to Ukrainians fighting in Svyarodonetsk and evacuating people from the area.

The Russian attacks also affected Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city and located near the border with Russia – regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said on Monday. He said two civilians were injured.

After failing to capture the capital Kyiv early at the start of the war, Russia has diverted its forces to the east and south of Ukraine and aimed to capture the Donbass region made up of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was moving some forces from the Donbass to the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and Kyiv says Moscow wants to do the same with the Donbass and annex it to Crimea in the south. Before the invasion, Russian-backed separatists controlled parts of the region.

Russia invaded Ukraine in what it called a “special operation” to demilitarize its neighbor. Ukraine and the West have rejected it as a baseless excuse for war.

Russian missiles on Sunday targeted Mykolaiv, a port city on the banks of the Bug River off the Black Sea, mostly bordering the Russian-occupied Kherson region.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said more than 12 missile strikes – perhaps the most powerful on the city in the five-month war – affected homes and schools, with two people confirmed dead and three wounded.

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Mykolaiv governor Vitaly Kim said Ukrainian grain baron Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of the agricultural company Nibulon, and his wife were murdered at their home.

Zelensky said the businessman – one of Ukraine’s richest – was building a modern grain market with a network of transshipment terminals and elevators.

“It’s the people, it’s the companies, right in the south of Ukraine, that have guaranteed the world’s food security,” Zelensky said in his nightly address. “It always was. And it will be like this once again.”

Zelensky said Ukraine could reap only half of its normal amount this year due to farm disruptions from the war. Farmers have reported trying to harvest crops in the midst of Russian shelling in their fields and surrounding towns and villages.

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reporting by the Reuters Bureau; Written by Michael Perry and Angus McSwan; Editing by Nick McPhee

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