First grain shipment leaves Ukraine after months of Russian blockade amid food crisis

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The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday morning as part of an internationally negotiated deal that is expected to release large quantities of Ukrainian crops to foreign markets amid a global food crisis.

The freighter Razoni, flying the flag of Sierra Leone, left Odessa for Lebanon, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced. A United Nations statement said the Razoni was carrying 26,000 tons of maize.

Razoni is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday. It will then be inspected before being allowed to continue its journey.

Lebanon is currently in a financial crisis. A 2020 explosion at its main port of Beirut shattered its capital and destroyed grain silos there, part of which collapsed following a week-long fire just on Sunday.

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In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, a Turkish Polarnet freighter loads Ukrainian grain at a port in the Odessa region, Ukraine, Friday, July 29, 2022.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, a Turkish Polarnet freighter loads Ukrainian grain at a port in the Odessa region, Ukraine, Friday, July 29, 2022.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

“Today, Ukraine, together with its partners, takes another step towards preventing hunger in the world,” said Alexander Kubrakov, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure.

He said it would also help Ukraine.

“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.

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Security personnel stand outside a grain storage terminal at the Odessa seaport in Odessa, Ukraine, Friday, July 29, 2022.

Security personnel stand outside a grain storage terminal at the Odessa seaport in Odessa, Ukraine, Friday, July 29, 2022.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Russia and Ukraine have signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN

Under the agreements, Russia agreed not to attack Ukrainian warships or port infrastructure as Ukraine tries to offload 22 million tonnes of grain to vulnerable and developing countries from Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhne.

A security guard stands next to the Navi-Star ship which has been full of grain since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine five months ago as it waits to leave the seaport of Odessa , in Odessa, Ukraine on Friday, July 29, 2022.

A security guard stands next to the Navi-Star ship which has been full of grain since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine five months ago as it waits to leave the seaport of Odessa , in Odessa, Ukraine on Friday, July 29, 2022.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

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Offers also allow Russia export cereals and fertilizers.

However, Russia hits Odessa in a missile strike on Saturday, followed by several attacks a few days later in the Odessa coastal towns of Yuzhne and Zatoka.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.