1st grain ship leaves Ukraine after months of Russian blockade
The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine left a port in the Odesa region Monday, after months of Russian blockade helped fuel a mounting global food crisis.
The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine left a port in the southern city of Odesa Monday, after months of Russian blockade helped fuel a mounting global food crisis.
The breakthrough follows a United Nations-backed deal between Kyiv and Moscow last month and while intense fighting continues in the east and the south. The departure of the first shipment will raise hopes that the impact of the war — now five months old — might be eased for millions facing hunger and poverty across the world, though doubts over Russia's commitment to any deal will continue.
Loaded with 26,000 tons of Ukrainian corn, the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni began its journey early Monday through heavily mined waters beyond the Black Sea and toward the port of Tripoli in Lebanon, officials said.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said in a Facebook post that the vessel would move along a safe corridor established by the U.N. and Turkey and observed by Russia's Navy.
Sixteen more ships that have been blocked since the beginning of the Russian invasion are also waiting to leave Odesa, Kubrakov added. He called the first ship’s departure “a colossal success for ensuring global food security.”
In a separate video shared by Kubrakov on Twitter, the ship can be seen slowly departing the port. NBC News could not independently verify the video.
Lebanon, where the Razoni is headed, has been plagued by years of economic and political turmoil. On Sunday, a part of its grain silos damaged in the 2020 Beirut Port explosion collapsed, just days shy of the two-year anniversary of the devastating blast.
Before heading to Tripoli the ship will reach the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, Turkey's defense ministry said. The country played a crucial role as mediator of the deal.
Shipping monitor site marinetraffic.com showed the ship moving south-east of Odesa at 12:30 p.m. local time (5:30 am ET).
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, although news of the ship’s departure was covered by Russian state media Monday, citing Ukrainian and Turkish officials.
“Progress in getting grain to feed millions around the world,” U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink said in a tweet marking the ship’s departure. But while it’s positive news, Brink said Moscow must end its assault on Ukrainians and their agricultural land.
The milestone departure comes as Russian forces continue to pound cities across Ukraine, threatening to upend the grain deal as they seek to press their offensive in the east and hold onto territory they've already seized in the south.