President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the first Ukrainian grain ship since Russia’s invasion is prepared and waiting to depart the port. The Zelenskyy said Kyiv was awaiting approval for the first cargo shipment as he visited a Black Sea port on Friday to demonstrate that his nation is prepared to begin exporting grain under an UN-brokered agreement to ease global food shortages.
Zelensky blasted a Russian blockade of the Black Sea that has stopped Ukraine from exporting grain and led to a dramatic increase in grain prices worldwide during a rare excursion outside of Kyiv since Russia’s invasion.
“We are ready to export Ukrainian grain. We are waiting for signals from our partners about the start of transportation,” Zelenskyy said during a visit to Chornomorsk Port near Odesa.
“It is important for us to remain a guarantor of global food security. While someone blocking the Black Sea takes the lives of other states, we allow them to survive,” he said.
The UN-mediated deal Russia and Ukraine reached in Istanbul last week is meant to relieve the food crisis and lower global grain prices that have soared since the Russian invasion. Both countries are critical worldwide producers of wheat.
The grain problem also played a significant role in Friday’s meetings between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the first time the two had talked since the conflict started.
Secretary Blinken spoke with his counterpart in a “frank and straightforward” manner, informing him that the world would not tolerate the Russian annexation of Ukrainian land and that Russia must uphold its promise to permit grain exports from Ukraine.
The agreement intends to ensure the safe transit of grain supplies into and out of the ports of Pivdennyi, Odessa, and Chornomorsk. Russia accuses Ukraine of impeding deliveries by mining the port’s waters.
According to presidential authorities, 17 ships carrying about 600,000 tonnes of cargo are berthed in Black Sea ports in Ukraine, and 16 moved grain from Ukraine totaling roughly 580,000 tons.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, the minister of infrastructure for Ukraine, told reporters in Odesa that 17 of the boats detained by the Russian blockade had been loaded with grain and that a further vessel was in the process of doing so.
Kubrakov stated that Pivdennyi should be ready by the end of the week and that Chornomorsk and Odesa were prepared to begin shipping grain.
The loading of 12,000 tons of bulk grain has begun and is expected to be completed by Sunday evening, Polarnet captain Ahmet Yucel Alibeyler said.
“After that, we will start our passage through the identified grain corridor towards Turkey, along with the other ships, as the convoy leading vessel,” he said.