The first shipment of Ukrainian grain has reached Turkish shores. The cargo ship Razoni, flying the flag of Sierra Leone, left the port of Odessa on Monday morning with 26,527 tonnes of maize bound for the Lebanese port of Tripoli. The ship and its cargo, which arrived a little earlier than expected, will first have to be inspected before continuing their journey.
Ukraine is one of the main suppliers of grains and oilseeds in the world. The collapse of exports after the Russian invasion rattled world markets, driving up prices and prompting importing countries to look for alternatives.
The resumption of exports was made possible thanks to the agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine, under the aegis of Turkey and the UN. The agreement signed on July 22 defines secure maritime corridors from three major ports in the oblast (administrative region) of Odessa: that of the city of Odessa, that of Chernomorsk and that of Yuzhni.
There is still a long way to go to reach pre-war Ukrainian grain export levels. The three ports included in the agreement account for just over half of Ukraine’s grain exports by sea in 2020-2021.
But the setbacks of the freighter “Razoni” cast doubt on the lifting of the Russian blockade in the Black Sea.
Leaving on August 1 from the port of Odessa, the first ship authorized to sail following the agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey has so far delivered barely 5% of the corn it was transporting. After five months of storage in the holds, the quality of the cargo deteriorated.
It was to be a humanitarian triumph: Ukrainian grain breaking five months of Russian naval blockade to supply the Middle East and Africa. But the Razoni, the first ship of the armada, cast doubt on the resumption of maritime traffic to and from Ukraine. The boat, which left the port of Odessa on August 1, thanks to a tripartite agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, under the auspices of the United Nations, and its charterer are indeed facing serious setbacks trade that could also be shared by the dozens of grain farmers who left in its wake.
On the evening of Wednesday August 10, the freighter flying the Sierra Leonean flag docked for the first time in Mersin, Turkey, after four days of circling in the water off Cyprus. To end up delivering barely 5% of the 26,527 tonnes of corn it transports to a Turkish buyer. The Razoni should in principle go back to sea to unload the rest of its cargo in Egypt, the director of the Turkish transport company Toros Lojistik Kargo told Reuters. This is only a guess, as Toros only took care of the delivery to the port of Mersin.