xi's moments
Home | Europe

Hopes riding on grain shipment from Odessa

By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-03 07:31

The Razoni, carrying 26,000 tons of corn, leaves the port of Odessa bound for Tripoli, Lebanon, on Monday. OLEKSANDR GIMANOV/AFP

First sailing from Ukrainian port after deal heralded as step to ease food crisis

The departure on Monday of a grain shipment from the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa, the first since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February, has been welcomed around the world as a major move toward easing a global food crisis.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni left with more than 26,000 tons of corn destined for the Mediterranean port of Tripoli in Lebanon.

Russia, Ukraine and Turkiye inked an agreement overseen by the United Nations on July 22 in the Turkish city of Istanbul to allow the export of grain and fertilizer by Ukraine and Russia. The arrangement is known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

"The day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odessa after months of Russian blockade," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the Razoni's departure "very positive" news, saying it would help test the "efficiency of the mechanisms that were agreed to during the talks in Istanbul".

Russia has blamed Western sanctions for slowing its exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.

Before the Razoni's departure, Ukrainian officials said 17 ships were docked in Black Sea ports with some 600,000 tons of cargo, mostly grain.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Monday that ensuring "existing grain and foodstuffs can move to global markets is a humanitarian imperative".

"The secretary-general salutes their efforts, and he is grateful to Turkiye for its leadership," the UN statement said.

"The secretary-general hopes that this will be the first of many commercial ships moving in accordance with the initiative signed, and that this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security, especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts."

Urgent needs

Guterres told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York that the ship was loaded with two commodities in short supply: "corn and hope".

"People on the verge of famine need these agreements to work, in order to survive. Countries on the verge of bankruptcy need these agreements to work, in order to keep their economies alive," he said.

Ukraine and Russia account for nearly a third of global wheat imports, with the two countries supplying more than 45 million tons annually, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative allows for significant volumes of exports from Odessa and nearby Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. Inspection teams will monitor the loading of grain at the ports. Ukrainian pilot vessels will guide the ships through the Black Sea, after which they will head out through the Bosporus Strait, passing Istanbul, along an agreed corridor.

Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, said in a tweet: "This is a collective achievement of the Joint Coordination Center. Multilateralism works!" He was referring to the JCC established in Istanbul with representatives from the three signatory nations under the grain initiative.

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano told a daily news conference on Monday that the European Union welcomes the departure of the ship from Odessa. "This was the first step toward mitigating the global food crisis," he said.

"We look forward to the implementation of the whole deal and resumption of the Ukrainian exports to the customers all around the world."

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization, said in a tweet that the "planned departure of more grain should hopefully bring intl. grain prices down, aid humanitarian purchases & have a positive impact on poor people going hungry in poor countries".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that "this work, initiated under the leadership of our country, is an important diplomatic success".

The Razoni was scheduled to dock in Istanbul early on Wednesday, when teams of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials will board the ship for inspection.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349