Three ships loaded with grain and other food supplies have left Ukrainian ports and are headed to Turkey for inspection, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Friday, following a UN-brokered deal to export Ukrainian grain that has been trapped by Russia’s invasion.
The three ships are loaded with over 58,000 tons of corn, much of it for animal feed. They are among over a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships that had been loaded with grain and stuck at Ukraine’s ports since Russia’s invasion in late February.
The ships are the Turkish-flagged Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, which left the Chornomorsk port bound for Karasu, Turkey; the Panama-flagged Navi Star, which left Odesa’s port for Ireland with 33,000 tons of corn; and the Maltese-flagged Rojen, which left Chornomorsk for the UK carrying over 13,000 tons of corn, according to the UN.
Ukraine says around 20 million tons of grain are trapped in the country’s silos and ports and must be shipped out to make space for this year’s harvest. Around 6 million tons of the trapped grain is wheat, half of it for human consumption.
The first grain-laden cargo ship leaving the Ukrainian port under the deal, the Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni, left Odesa early on Monday with 26,527 tons of corn, anchored in the Black Sea off the coast of Istanbul and was inspected by a team of representatives from the recently established Joint Coordination Center (JCC) on Wednesday, and then sailed for Lebanon.
The JCC comprises 20 representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations, and Turkey, who monitor the implementation of the grain shipment process. Inspectors check that outbound cargo ships carry only grain, fertilizer, or food and not any other commodities, and that inbound ships are not carrying weapons.
On July 22, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal with Turkey and the UN to allow food and fertilizer exports from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi.
The deal aims to allow safe passage for ships carrying grain to world markets amid a sharp rise in food prices, concerns about food shortages, and fears of a global hunger crisis due to the Russo-Ukrainian War. Russia and Ukraine are major global suppliers of wheat and other grains.