Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Inspection team boards first Ukraine grain ship off Turkish coast

Inspection team boards first Ukraine grain ship off Turkish coast

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A team of inspectors boarded the first grain-carrying ship to leave Ukrainian ports in wartime on Wednesday before it continues to its final destination in Lebanon under a UN-brokered deal that aims to ease a global food crisis.

The ship, Razoni, departed from Ukraine's Odesa port on the Black Sea early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn to Lebanon's Tripoli. It anchored at the entrance of the Bosphorus on Tuesday night.

The sailing was made possible after Ankara and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertiliser export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv last month - a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a drawn-out war of attrition.

Two boats carrying inspection personnel took off from a small fishing port in Istanbul's Rumeli Feneri towards the ship, which was circled by two coast guard boats while a helicopter flew around it.

Wednesday's inspection by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel working at a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in nearby Istanbul was expected to be completed around midday (0900 GMT). It was not clear when the ship would set off on the rest of the trip.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that more outbound movement was being planned from Ukraine on Wednesday, adding that about 27 ships were covered by the export deal.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters on Tuesday that Ankara expects roughly one ship to leave three Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea daily.

The exports from one of the world's top grain producers are intended to help ease global food shortages and rising prices.

As part of the agreement, the four parties are monitoring shipments and conducting inspections from the JCC in Istanbul, which straddles the Bosphorus Strait that connects the Black Sea to world markets.