Three ships carrying more than 58,000 tons of corn have departed Ukrainian ports for Turkey on Friday under a U.N.-brokered deal aimed at distributing grain from the embattled country that has been trapped by Russia’s military invasion.
Ukraine is one of the world’s main breadbaskets and the stocks of grain stuck there were exacerbating a sharp rise of food prices and raising fears of a global hunger crisis.
The departure of the ships comes after the first grain shipment since the start of the war left Ukraine earlier this week. It crossed the Black Sea under the breakthrough wartime deal and passed inspection Wednesday in Istanbul and then headed on to Lebanon.
The ships that departed Friday from Ukraine – which Turkey’s defense ministry says are headed to Turkey for inspection — are from among over a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships that had been loaded with grain and stuck at the ports there since the start of Russia’s invasion in late February.
While tens of thousands of tons of grains are now making their way out with these latest shipments, it is still a fraction of the 20 million tons of grains which Ukraine says are trapped in the country’s silos and ports, and which must be shipped out in order to make space for this year’s harvest.
Under the July 22 deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, which Russia and Ukraine have signed off on, ships are allowed to leave the ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny with grain, corn and related food.
Prices for grains peaked in the first weeks after Russia’s invasion, but some have since come down to their pre-war levels. Corn prices are running around 70% above the levels seen at the end of February 2020, before the pandemic, according to Jonathan Haines, senior analyst and data and analytics firm, Gro Intelligence. He said wheat prices are currently 63% above the levels seen at the end of February this year, when the invasion was launched.
The three ships that left Ukrainian ports are the Turkish-flagged Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, which left the Chornomorsk port bound for Karasu, Turkey. The Panama-flagged Navi Star left Odesa’s port for Ireland with 33,000 tons of corn. The Maltese-flagged Rojen left Chornomorsk for the United Kingdom carrying over 13,000 tons of corn, according to the United Nations.
Fox News’ Paul Best and the Associated Press contributed to this report.