The first big ship to carry grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port since Moscow nixed an agreement to allow such exports set sail for Egypt this week.
“The vessel AROYAT (flag Palau) left the port Chornomorsk after loading 17,6K Ukrainian wheat for Egypt,” Oleksandr Kubrakov,Vice Prime Minister for the Restoration of Ukraine, posted on social media Friday along with a photo of the ship. “This is the second bulker [to leave] the port of Chornomorsk using temporary corridor for civil shipping. The first was RESILIENT AFRICA with 3K wheat for Asia.”
Shortly before 3pm local time Friday, Resilient Africa, another Palau-flagged ship had reportedly reached a Turkish port in Istanbul.
On August 10, Kyiv announced a “humanitarian corridor” off the coasts of Romania and Bulgaria in the Black Sea to allow the release of cargo ships that have been trapped in its ports since Russia invaded in February 2022.
The corridor was established after the Kremlin in July withdrew from the the 2022 United Nations-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative that allowed Ukraine to export grain and other food supplies to countries struggling with food insecurity in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Five vessels have left Ukraine so far using the corridor.
Russia’s military has since been targeting of Ukrainian ports with air strikes, resulting in Ukraine grain exports in July to fall 40% from the previous month, driving up prices around the world, to the point where the United Nations’ World Food Program has had to cut back on aid to refugees in the Middle East.
During his speech Tuesday before the United Nations General Assembly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asserted that Russia’s actions were “a clear attempt by Russia to weaponize the food shortage on the global market in exchange for recognition for some if not all of the captured [Ukrainian] territories.”
His sentiment echoed that voiced by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month, who accused Russia of “using food as a weapon of war in Ukraine.”
During his bilateral meeting with President Biden at the White House Thursday, Zelensky said the U.S. had agreed on “specific steps” to expand exports of grain from Ukraine, the details of which would be “announced shortly,” along with other agreements.
On Friday, Zelensky was visiting Canada for the first time since Russia’s invasion, where he planned to address Parliament.