Ukraine ready to ship grain, awaits signal for first shipment – Times of India


ODESA (UKRANE): Ukraine is poised to start shipping grain from two Black Sea ports under a United Nations brokered agreement, but no date has been set for the first shipment, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said Friday.
He told reporters in the southern port of Odessa that 17 ships trapped by a five-month Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports had already been loaded with grain, and another was now being loaded.
He hoped the first ships would leave port by the end of this week.
Russia and Ukraine are major global wheat suppliers, and the agreement they signed in Istanbul last week aims to alleviate an international food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of its neighbor on Feb. 24.
“After signing the grain initiative in Istanbul, the Ukrainian side has made all 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. It also quoted him saying that Ukraine was ready to start shipping grain and that Kiev was waiting for a signal from its international partners to start the first shipment.
The agreement aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi, which have been blocked by Russia since the start of the invasion. Moscow blames Ukraine for holding back shipments by mining port waters.
Kubrakov, who signed the agreement for Ukraine, said Chornomorsk and Odessa were ready to ship grain and hoped the port of Pivdennyi would also be ready by the end of this week.
“A total of 17 ships were loaded before the war. Today we started loading another ship in Chornomorsk. We basically solved almost all technical questions,” said Kubrakov.
“We hope that today we will receive confirmation from the UN regarding the proposed corridor in which the ships will sail through the Black Sea to the Bosphorus, and after that we (will) be ready to start. I hope the first ships will depart our ports before the end of this week.”
Kubrakov did not say what quantities of grain would be shipped and did not provide further details about the planned shipments.
“If this initiative works as we hope and expect, and if our Turkish and UN partners can ensure that it is implemented, we are confident that world (grain) prices will fall,” he said.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Thursday that “critical” details for the safe passage of ships are still being worked out, but he was hopeful that the first shipment of grain could arrive as early as Friday.
Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Ukraine, told reporters in Odessa she hoped an agreement would be reached later on Friday to clear the way for the first shipment.

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