Turkey sees daily departures from Ukraine after 1st grain shipment

BY DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES

 ISTANBUL AUG 02, 2022

The bulk carrier Razoni starts its way from the port in Odessa, Ukraine, Aug. 1, 2022. (AP photo)

The bulk carrier Razoni starts its way from the port in Odessa, Ukraine, Aug. 1, 2022. (AP photo)

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The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey Aug. 2, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

Ship carrying Ukrainian grain reaches Turkey

UKRAINE-GRAIN-DEAL

Roughly one grain ship is expected to leave Ukrainian ports each day as long as the landmark agreement that ensures safe passage holds, a senior Turkish official said Tuesday, a day after the first wartime vessel safely departed the Black Sea port of Odessa.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, which departed with over 26,000 tons of corn destined for Lebanon, was crossing the western Black Sea off Romania’s Danube Delta at 7:14 a.m. GMT on Tuesday, nearly halfway to Turkish waters, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

It marks the first vessel to set out from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports where supplies have been stuck since Russia invaded its neighbor more than five months ago.

The sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a deal to unblock Ukraine’s agricultural exports and ease the growing global food crisis, in a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has become a drawn-out war of attrition.

Russia and Ukraine signed agreements in Istanbul with Turkey and the U.N. on July 22, clearing the way for Ukraine to export some 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products. The deals also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer.

“The plan is for a ship to leave … every day,” the senior Turkish official told Reuters, referring to Odessa and two other Ukrainian ports covered by the deals. “If nothing goes wrong, exports will be made via one ship a day for a while.”

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added Razoni’s departure was delayed by a couple of days by “technical problems” that are now fixed, and NATO member Turkey expected the safe-passage corridor to function well.

1st ship runs into bad weather

The first cargo ship has run into bad weather in the Black Sea and is set to arrive later than scheduled in Istanbul, a Turkish official said Tuesday.

Razoni is now expected to reach the coasts of the Turkish metropolis early Wednesday, according to Rear Admiral Özcan Altunbulak, a coordinator at the joint center established to oversee the grain shipments.

The vessel had initially progressed very slowly at just seven knots in Ukrainian waters due to possible mines but was then able to pick up speed, according to the Marine Traffic website.

At a briefing held at the headquarters, general Altunbudak said the course of the ship was going as planned.

Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. officials are to inspect the vessel after it anchors in Istanbul, which straddles the Bosporus Strait that connects the Black Sea to world markets.

The four parties are working side-by-side at the joint coordination center that was set up last month to monitor shipments and conduct inspections.

Altunbulak said “preparations and planning” are continuing for other ships expected to leave Ukraine’s ports, but he did not provide details.

As part of the agreement on shipments, safe corridors through the mined waters outside Ukraine’s ports were established.

‘Grain knot untied’

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said the “grain knot was untied” in Istanbul and said the deal was a “product” of Ankara’s diplomatic success, as many nations and international institutions issued statements to thank Turkey for its efforts.

“Everyone accepts that the steps taken to overcome grain crisis, which the world is closely observing, is the product of our country’s efforts,” Erdoğan told in a televised address after the Cabinet meeting in Ankara.

The situation in the Black Sea remains tense, however, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged international partners to keep a close eye on Moscow’s compliance with the deal.

Zelenskyy on Monday sounded a cautious note, saying it was “too soon” to celebrate.

“At this time, it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts,” he said. “Let’s wait and see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

Shipments raise hopes

More ships are soon expected to leave from Ukraine’s ports through the safe corridors. At Odessa, 16 more vessels, all blocked since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, were waiting their turn, with others to follow, Ukrainian authorities say.

The more than 26,000 tons of corn on board the Razoni, destined for Lebanon, will make barely a dent in what the World Bank last week called “rising food insecurity” across the world.

“Record high food prices have triggered a global crisis that will drive millions more into extreme poverty,” its latest food security update said, blaming the war in Ukraine, global supply chain problems and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the restart of shipments from Ukraine and Russia, which are major world suppliers of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil, raised hopes that the situation could improve. The fertile Black Sea region has long been known as the breadbasket of Europe.

source https://www.dailysabah.com/business/economy/turkey-sees-daily-departures-from-ukraine-after-1st-grain-shipment

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