February 29, 2024

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The first grain ship in Ukraine since the beginning of the war leaves Odessa

The first grain ship in Ukraine since the beginning of the war leaves Odessa
  • The first Ukrainian grain ship bound for Lebanon
  • Turkey says more ships will follow
  • Russian missiles bombed the port of Mykolaiv
  • Ukrainian grain magnate Oleksiy Vadatorsky was killed in Mykolaiv
  • Putin’s naval ambitions include the Black Sea and the Arctic

Kyiv (Reuters) – A ship laden with grain left the Ukrainian port of Odessa for foreign markets on Monday under a safe passage agreement, a Ukrainian minister said, the first departure since the Russian invasion that blocked shipping through the Black Sea five months ago. .

The sail was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertilizer export agreement between Russia and Ukraine last month.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kobrakov said on Twitter: “The first grain ship since the #Russian aggression has left the port. Thanks to the support of all partner countries & @UN, we were able to fully implement the agreement signed in Istanbul.”

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The Turkish Defense Minister said earlier that the Sierra Leone-flagged ship loaded with corn would go to Lebanon. She added that more ships would follow.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 triggered a global food and energy crisis and the United Nations has warned of the dangers of multiple famines this year.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat exports. But Western sanctions on Russia and fighting along Ukraine’s eastern coast have prevented grain ships from safely leaving ports.

The deal is intended to allow safe passage of grain shipments to and from Chornomorsk, Odessa and the port of Bivdnyi.

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Ukrainian presidential officials said that 17 ships docked in Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea, carrying about 600,000 tons of cargo. Among them, 16 Ukrainian ships contained grain with a gross tonnage of about 580 thousand tons.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports, and Ukraine for mining its ports.

Port bombing

Despite the breakthrough in grain shipments, the war on land is elsewhere.

On Sunday, Russian missiles hit the port city of Mykolaiv, located at the mouth of the Bug River off the Black Sea on the border of the mainly Russian-occupied Kherson region.

More than a dozen rocket attacks – perhaps the most powerful on the city in five months of the war – hit homes and schools, killing two people and wounding three, said Mayor of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Senkevich.

Vitaly Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv, said on Telegram that Ukrainian grain magnate Oleksiy Vadatorsky, founder and owner of the agricultural company Nipolon, and his wife were killed in their home.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Vadotorsky’s death “a great loss for the whole of Ukraine”.

Zelensky said the businessman – one of Ukraine’s richest people with Forbes estimated his net worth in 2021 at $430 million – was building a modern grain market with a network of recharging stations and elevators.

“It was these people, these companies, precisely in southern Ukraine, who ensured food security for the world,” Zelensky said in his nightly speech. “It has always been this way. And it will be so again.”

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Zelensky said Ukraine could harvest only half the usual amount this year due to the disruption of agriculture from the war. Farmers reported trying to harvest between the Russian bombing of their fields and nearby towns and villages.

Zelensky said Russia is moving some troops from the eastern Donbass region to the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions.

After failing to quickly capture the capital Kyiv early in the war, Russia shifted its forces to eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine in what it called a “special operation” to demilitarize its neighbor. Ukraine and Western countries dismissed this as an unfounded pretext for war.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and Kyiv says Moscow is seeking to do the same with the Donbass region, linking it to Crimea in the south. Russian-backed separatists were in control of parts of the region before the invasion.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Michael Perry and Angus McSwan; Editing by Nick McPhee

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.