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First ship carrying Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa port

A ship carrying Ukrainian grains has departed from the port of Odesa on Monday for the first time since February, Turkey’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni finally set sail after weeks of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, carrying 26,000 tons of Ukrainian corn according to a statement from Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry. The ministry added that 16 additional ships are waiting their turn to leave the port.

Marine traffic data shows Razoni sailing a few kilometers off the coast of Odesa, several hours after the Turkish statement.

Since late February, shipments from Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest grain producers, have been blocked from leaving the country’s ports by Russia. This sparked fears of a global food crisis as prices shot up.

“Today, Ukraine, together with its partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger,” said Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure. He added that unblocking the ports would also yield opportunities for Ukraine, and “provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings for the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan next year’s crops.”

The first shipment comes as Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement on July 22 with the United Nations and Turkey to reopen Ukraine’s seaports and guarantee safe passage for the ships carrying Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea.

Under the deal, Moscow committed not to attack merchant vessels exporting grain from Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi. However, within 24 hours of the deal being signed, Russia had already struck Odesa with missiles and hit port infrastructure facilities.

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