UN emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths had already announced on Thursday that exports could begin soon. There are some freighters already loaded in Black Sea ports ready to depart, he said Thursday in New York. “And we were hoping that would happen, even today or tomorrow.”
All necessary preparations were made at the Black Sea ports of Odessa and Chornomorsk, said Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. By the end of the week, the port of Pivdennyj should also be ready.
Chornomorsk is south of Odessa, where Russian missiles hit the port just hours after an agreement between Ukraine and Russia to start grain exports. The two warring parties signed the agreement a week ago, brokered by the UN and Turkey, according to which the blockade on transport must be lifted.
Millions of tons of grain have been trapped in Ukrainian Black Sea ports since the start of the war in late February. With deliveries resuming, the global rise in food prices must be contained and a famine – which according to the UN threatens 47 million people mainly in the Middle East and Africa – must be avoided. Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for about a third of global grain exports.
Ukraine had mined its Black Sea ports for defense. Russia, in turn, occupied or blocked Ukrainian ports. The agreement aims to allow safe passage through minefields, occupied waters and ultimately across the Bosphorus to the Mediterranean.
A ship carrying grain from occupied areas in Ukraine, however, entered the Lebanese port of Tripoli, according to Kyiv. The loaded barley was therefore exported through the port of Fedosiya in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia. Kyiv suspects grain theft. Ukrainian Ambassador Igor Ostash asked Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday to clarify the case, according to the embassy’s Facebook page. So the ship from Syria arrived there on Wednesday.