A total of 14 ships loaded with grain have left the southern coast of Ukraine in the past two weeks, under this agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine under the auspices of the United Nations and Turkey, which provides secure maritime corridors from three major ports in the oblast (administrative region) of Odessa, that of the city of Odessa, that of Chernomorsk and that of Yuzhni.
The Sormovsky, which flies the flag of Belize, left the port of Chernomorsk on Friday morning with a cargo of 3,050 tonnes of wheat heading for the Turkish province of Tekirdag, which borders the Sea of Marmara.
This is the first export of Ukrainian wheat for more than five months, the launch of Russian aggression on February 24 quickly bringing the ports of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to a standstill, in southern Ukraine.
Millions of tonnes of wheat in stock
Before the start of the war, Ukraine and Russia together accounted for about a third of world wheat exports and the United Nations has repeatedly warned in recent months of the risk of an exacerbation of the world food crisis in the wake of the conflict, in particular because of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.
Ukraine is said to have around 20 million tonnes of wheat in stock remaining from last year’s harvest and the fruit of this year’s harvest is also estimated at around 20 million tonnes.
Another ship that left Ukraine on Friday, the Star Laura, which flies the flag of the Marshall Islands, left the port of Pivdenny, in the city of Yuzhni, with 60,000 tons of corn on board bound for Iran, a said the Turkish Defense Ministry.
Food crisis: soon 23,000 tons of cereals to Ethiopia
Until now, most of the ships that left Ukraine under the Istanbul agreement were loaded with feed grains or intended for use in the composition of biofuels.
At this stage, the grain exports of the past two weeks were not destined for the countries most weakened by the world food crisis, but the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, announced on Twitter on Thursday that the Ukrainian authorities were ready to loading 23,000 tonnes of grain destined for Ethiopia on board a ship expected in a Ukrainian port on Friday.
As part of the agreement, UN, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian personnel from the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Center are tasked with checking vessels before they enter Black Sea waters to reach Ukraine, then to inspect cargoes before they cross the Bosphorus Strait to reach the Sea of Marmara.
Four additional ships were allowed to reach the Ukrainian coast after inspection and the Turkish Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that those which had already docked in Ukraine were being loaded.
The schedule for departures is not yet known, but Frederick Kenney, acting UN coordinator of the joint coordination center in Istanbul, said on Wednesday he expected an increase in transit requests, adding that the target of a monthly volume of Ukrainian grain exports of between two and five million tonnes was