Three more ships from Ukraine carrying vital grain supplies have left ports on the Black Sea, each heading to a different destination. One ship is travelling to Turkiye’s Black Sea port of Karasu, another is heading to the UK, and a third is sailing to the Republic of Ireland.
Two ships left from the port of Chornomorsk and one from Odesa, carrying a total of 58,041 tons of corn through the designated “maritime humanitarian corridor” on the Black Sea.
The latest grain exports were approved following the success of the first shipment on board the Razoni, which left Odesa early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn.
The Sierra Leone-flagged ship anchored at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait on Tuesday night ahead of inspection. A team involving Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations officials from a co-ordination centre in nearby Istanbul, boarded the boat to check its contents and crew, before allowing the Razoni to continue on to Tripoli in Lebanon.
Merchant vessel Fulmar S was also authorised in the opposite direction to Chornomorsk following another inspection.
The passage of commercial ships was made possible after President Erdoğan of Turkiye and UN Secretary-General António Guterres brokered a grain and fertiliser export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv.
Known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the deal was signed in Istanbul on 22 July and runs for 120 days, allowing for the movement of some 27 commercial ships. The deal can be extended if required.
The Initiative is being overseen by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), which comprises of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel and was formed five days after the critical agreement was struck.
The first commercial shipment of grain is currently on its way to #Lebanon.
Under the #BlackSeaGrainInitiative, three ports in Ukraine are due to resume the export of millions of tons of wheat, corn and other crops at a crucial time of global food insecurity. pic.twitter.com/xitPc2SCwT
— UN Humanitarian (@UNOCHA) August 4, 2022
In a statement about the latest shipments, the JCC said: “The three outbound vessels are estimated to depart in the morning from their respective ports. Timings may be affected based on readiness, weather conditions or other unexpected circumstances. Inspection is expected to take place after arrival at the anchorage area in Turkish territorial waters.”
The JCC said they were “drawing from lessons learnt during the first movement of M/V Razoni” and had authorised the movement of more commercial vessels “as a second ‘proof of concept’, testing multi-ship operations in the corridor including an inbound ship.”
“In addition, the corridor has been revised to allow for more efficient passage of ships while maintaining safety,” added the JCC.
Dozens of commercial vessels have been stranded in Ukrainian ports following Russia’s invasion in February. The departure of these ships to “pre-defined destinations” will, the JCC said, “free up valuable pier space for more inbound ships to come in and carry food to global markets in line with the [Black Sea Grain] Initiative.”
“The JCC will monitor closely the safe passage of the vessels through the humanitarian maritime corridor.”
Prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine-Russian war, Ukraine exported 5-6 million tonnes of grain per month via its sea ports, according to Denys Marchuk, deputy chair of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council, who spoke at a briefing on Wednesday. Marchuk urged that more ports in Ukraine be used to allow more vital supplies to be exported.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of wheat and corn. Its inability to export because of Russia’s blockade has led to spiralling prices, food insecurity and political instability worldwide.
Main image, top, of an inspection team from the Joint Co-ordinating Committee on board the Razoni, 3 Aug. 2022. Photo © UNOCHA / Levent Kulu