After disappearing from radar for a few days, the cargo ship Razoni arrived at the port of Tartus in Syria with the first cargo of grain under the international agreement between Ukraine and Russia brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. This was revealed by Planet Labs PBC satellite imagery analyzed by The Associated Press.
The ship, flying the Sierra Leonean flag, left the port of Odessa on August 1 with its cargo of 26,000 tons of corn and did not unload in Lebanon as planned, but went black (it turned off the transponder containing the data from location) before he turned up in Tartus, in the west of the country ruled by Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin’s historic ally. The Razoni was the first ship to set sail from the port of Odessa and probably the most important as it had to open a dangerous and mine-filled route. His final destination should have been Lebanon, a country that is going through a severe economic crisis.
According to local media, it was the import company that refused the delivery because of the significant delay of around five months. At this point, the ship pulled up off the coast of Mersin in Turkey before disappearing from radar. After two weeks of wandering in the eastern Mediterranean, the Razoni reached the port of Tartus. The cargo ship cut its radio signal in eastern Cyprus on August 12 and was spotted heading to port in the morning. It then lay at anchor for a few days before docking in Tartous,” Samir Madani, founder of research firm TankerTrackers, told the Financial Times.
When asked about the issue by the Washington Post, the United Nations Joint Coordination Center stated that “after the outgoing ships have passed inspections in Istanbul, the Joint Coordination Center will stop monitoring them.” At this point, the approved ships “then proceed to their final destinations, whatever they may be”. The Ukrainian embassy in Beirut said on Tuesday that the ships’ destination was not within their area of responsibility. “Our task was to reopen seaports for grain shipments and that has been done,” he said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told Euronews that America does not determine “who buys the grain shipments or their ultimate destinations.” “There are a few things that are most important to us,” Price said. “First: that Ukraine is adequately compensated for the grain, for the food, for the harvest that it supplies in this case. And that the food gets to where it is needed most.”
Syria recognized the Russian-backed breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as sovereign entities, prompting Kyiv to sever diplomatic ties with Damascus. Ukraine previously accused Syrian authorities of stealing at least 150,000 tons of wheat from Ukrainian stocks after invading Russia in February.