The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni is carrying over 26,500 tonnes of corn and is bound for Tripoli in Lebanon following an inspection in Istanbul on Tuesday.
As part of a recent deal brokered by Türkiye, the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has departed from the port of Odessa to Lebanon.
Loaded with corn, the Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni left Odessa on Monday morning, as agreed by the sides of the accord, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
"The ship Razoni has left the port of Odessa bound for Tripoli in Lebanon. It is expected in Istanbul on August 2. It will then continue its journey after it has been inspected in Istanbul," the ministry said.
The Razoni, built in 1996 and measuring 186 metres in length and 25 metres in width, is carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn.
The grain-loaded ship will be in Istanbul at 12:00 GMT on Tuesday, Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk in the capital Ankara on Monday.
"The ship will be anchored off the coast of Istanbul around 1500 (local time) for a joint inspection," Akar said. "The next ships will continue likewise without any disruptions."
He said that the efforts on grain shipments from Ukraine will continue, adding that this matter is a "humanitarian issue."
On grains and chemicals awaiting shipment out of Russian ports, Akar said Türkiye would "be glad" to contribute on that issue as well.
UN, Ukraine hail shipment
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres "warmly welcomes" the departure of the Razoni ship, a spokesperson said on Monday.
"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," the UN said in a statement.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also hailed the departure of the first shipment of grain as a "relief for the world".
"The day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa after months of Russian blockade," Kuleba tweeted.
The day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa after months of Russian blockade. Ukraine has always been a reliable partner and will remain one should Russia respect its part of the deal.— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) August 1, 2022
Ankara-brokered landmark deal
Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports — Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny — for grain that has been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is now in its sixth month.
To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, a joint coordination centre in Istanbul was officially opened on Wednesday, comprising representatives of Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine.
The centre will enable the safe transportation, by merchant ships, of commercial foodstuffs and fertilisers from the three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.
The blockage of deliveries from two of the world's biggest grain exporters has contributed to a spike in prices that has made food imports prohibitively expensive for some of the world's poorest countries.
UN estimates say nearly 50 million people began to face "acute hunger" around the world as a direct consequence of the conflict.
Wheat prices fell sharply hours after the grain deal was signed.