Four ships with grain leave Ukrainian ports for Turkey, Zelensky skeptical
Four other ships carrying grain and sunflower oil have left Ukrainian ports through a safe maritime corridor, writes the BBC.
Millions of tons of grain have been stuck in Ukraine due to Russian blockades, leading to shortages and higher food prices elsewhere.
But last week the first ship left Ukrainian ports since February.
The last ships to sail are destined for Turkey, where they will be inspected as part of an agreement reached with Russia and the United Nations.
Why does the world need grain to be shipped from Ukraine?
The ships left today from the ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk and will all travel through the Bosphorus.
After inspections, two are scheduled to dock in Turkey, while the others are headed for Italy and China. Another empty vessel has been authorized to travel to Ukraine for loading.
Under a deal brokered by Turkey and the UN last month, Russia agreed not to target ships in transit, while Ukraine said it would guide ships through mined waters.
The agreement, set to last 120 days, can be renewed if both sides agree. The complex arrangement appears to be working, at least for now.
The success of this deal, a rare diplomatic breakthrough in the five-month conflict, is vital for Ukraine and the rest of the world.
Twenty million tons of grain are stuck in the country, as a result of the blockade imposed by the Russians on Ukrainian ports. If the deal stands, Ukraine expects to export up to three million tons of grain per month.
Ukrainian authorities say there are good signs that grain exports are safe and have asked companies to return to the country’s ports. The hope is that exports will help ease the global food crisis, while bringing in much-needed foreign currency.
But the fear persists. President Zelensky welcomed the resumption of exports, but said security concerns remain.
The first ship to leave Ukraine last week left Odesa carrying 27,000 tons of corn to the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
However, officials have said it will not dock in Tripoli today as planned.