Ship with Ukrainian corn anchored off Turkey for inspection

Published : 03 Aug 2022 08:47 PM

A team of Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey is due on Wednesday to inspect the first shipment of grain exported from Ukraine since Moscow's invasion under a deal aimed at curbing a global food crisis.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni arrived at the edge of the Bosphorus Strait just north of Istanbul on Tuesday, a day after leaving the Black Sea port of Odessa carrying 26,000 tonnes of maize bound for Lebanon.

The ship sailed through a specially cleared corridor in the mine-infested waters of the Black Sea, which had been under a Russian blockade.

It is due to be inspected Wednesday by a team that includes Russian and

Ukrainian officials, in accordance with Russia's wish to ascertain the nature of the cargo, the Turkish defence ministry said.

The Razoni set sail under a deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to lift Russia's naval blockade of the Black Sea and allow the shipment of millions of tonnes of produce to world markets to help curb a global food crisis.

The UN secretary-general's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he hoped for "more outbound movement" on Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wished for "regularity" in shipments.

"When one ship leaves the port, there are other ships as well -- both those loading and those approaching the port," he said in his nightly address Tuesday.

"Continuity and regularity are the necessary principle. All consumers of our agricultural products need it."

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday "warmly" welcomed the departure of the Razoni, expressing hope "this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts".

The halt of deliveries from Ukraine -- one of the world's biggest grains exporters -- has contributed to soaring food prices, hitting the world's poorest nations especially hard.

Kyiv says at least 16 more grain ships are waiting to depart.

But it also accuses Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain in territories seized by Kremlin forces and then shipping it to allied countries in Africa and the

Middle East, such as Syria. Russia attacked the Odessa port from which the Razoni set off less than 24 hours after the grain deal was signed in Istanbul on July 22, putting the safety of future deliveries in doubt.