Ship sail

Ukraine ready to ship grain, awaits signal for first shipment

ODESA, Ukraine, July 29 (Reuters) – Ukraine is set to ship grain from two Black Sea ports under a UN-brokered deal, but no date has been set for the first shipment, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Friday.

He told reporters in the southern port of Odessa that 17 ships trapped by a five-month Russian blockade on Ukrainian Black Sea ports were already loaded with grain and another was being loaded.

He hopes the first ships will start leaving port by the end of this week. Read more

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Russia and Ukraine are the world’s main suppliers of wheat, and the agreement they signed in Istanbul last week aims to ease an international food crisis worsened by Russia’s February 24 invasion of its neighbor.

“After the signing of the grain initiative in Istanbul, the Ukrainian side made all the necessary preparations for … the navigation of the Black Sea, to start exporting our grain products from our ports,” Kubrakov said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said the president visited the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk on Friday. He quoted him as also saying that Ukraine was ready to start shipping grain and that Kyiv was waiting for a signal from its international partners to start the first shipment. Read more

The agreement aims to allow safe passage of grain cargoes to and from the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi, which have been blocked by Russia since the start of its invasion. Moscow accuses Ukraine of blocking shipments by mining port waters.

Kubrakov, who signed the deal for Ukraine, said Chornomorsk and Odessa were ready to start shipping grain and he hoped the port of Pivdennyi would also be ready by the end of this week.

A SUGGESTED CEREAL PRICES DROP

“A total of 17 ships were loaded before the war. Today we started loading another ship in Chornomorsk. We, in principle, solved almost all technical issues,” Kubrakov said.

“We hope that today we will receive confirmation from the UN regarding the proposed corridor in which ships will sail through the Black Sea to the Bosphorus, and after that we (will) be ready to start. the first ships will leave our ports before the end of this week.”

Kubrakov did not specify what volumes of grain would be shipped and gave no further details on expected shipments.

“This initiative, if it works out as we hope and expect, and if our Turkish and UN partners can ensure its execution, we are confident that world (grain) prices will go down,” he said.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Thursday that “crucial” details for the safe passage of ships were still being worked out, but he hoped the first shipment of grain could take place as early as Friday.

Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Ukraine, told reporters in Odessa she hoped a deal would be reached later Friday to pave the way for the first shipment.

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Reporting by Max Hunder, editing by Timothy Heritage

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