First Ukrainian grain ship authorized to sail to Lebanon | Health & Fitness

By ZEYNEP BILGINSOY Associated Press

ISTANBUL (AP) — The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a wartime deal was ready to cross the Bosphorus Strait and sail to Lebanon after its cargo was reviewed and approved Wednesday, authorities said. Turkish and Ukrainian authorities.

An inspection team spent about 90 minutes conducting checks aboard the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, which was carrying Ukrainian corn and was anchored off Istanbul, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said.

The team included officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations. The Razoni’s horn sounded as the inspectors abandoned ship.

Images tweeted by the Turkish Defense Ministry showed an inspector reaching into an open container at the Razoni and touching the grain.

The Razoni, which according to the United Nations is carrying 26,527 tons of corn, set sail on Monday from Odessa, on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. She heads to Lebanon, her final destination.

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Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry confirmed that the ship had passed inspection and said that another 17 ships “are loaded and await permission to depart.”

The inspectors, some wearing white helmets, made their way to the Razoni in the rain in two boats, escorted by the Turkish coast guard. Turkish media said there were about 20 inspectors.

The checks are intended to ensure that incoming ships are not carrying weapons and that outgoing ships are only carrying grain, fertilizer or related food, not other staples.

More ships from Ukraine are expected to set sail in the coming days, raising hopes that global food shortages can be eased. Some 27 ships have been waiting in three Ukrainian ports with cargo and signed contracts, ready to go, according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

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It is estimated that 20 million tons of grain have been trapped in Ukraine since the beginning of the war. The agreement brokered by the UN last month to release the grain calls for the establishment of safe corridors through the mined waters out of Ukraine’s ports.

Delayed shipments due to war have worsened rising food prices around the world and threatened famine and political instability in developing countries.

Most of the grain stuck in Ukraine is fed to cattle, according to David Laborde, an expert at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. Only 6 million tons is wheat, and only half of that is for human consumption, Laborde said. He said that the Razoni is full of chicken feed.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the resumption of grain exports will reduce the ability of Russian authorities to win concessions from the West. “You are missing one of the opportunities to terrorize the world,” he said in his late-night video address Tuesday night.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has also interrupted power supplies in Western Europe, with Moscow slashing the amount it sends amid fears it could stop sending.

Meanwhile, the UN nuclear chief has warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and urgent action is needed to prevent a nuclear accident.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that the situation is becoming increasingly dangerous at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, which Russian troops seized in early March, shortly after Ukraine’s invasion on February 24th.

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“All nuclear safety principles have been violated” at the plant, he said. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely serious and dangerous.”

He urgently appealed to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continued to shell the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, hitting it with shells twice in the past 24 hours, around 9 p.m. Tuesday and 5 a.m. Wednesday, the governor of Ukraine said. the Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim.

The shelling damaged a dock, an industrial enterprise, residential buildings, a garage cooperative, a supermarket and a pharmacy, Kim said. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

Mykolaiv is a southern port city, somewhat on a par with Odessa, and is located on the Black Sea. The Russians said in April that they want to control not only the east, but also the south of Ukraine. Taking control of Odessa and Mykolaiv in the south will give them control over the entire Black Sea coast and a land corridor to the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria.

In the midst of the relentless attack by Moscow forces, Zelenskyy issued an order to all who remained in the country. besieged Donetsk region to evacuate as soon as possible.

The mandatory evacuation effort aims to remove 200,000 to 220,000 people from the eastern province by the fall, officials say.

Robert Badendieck and Mehmet Guzel in Istanbul contributed to this report.

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