The first cargo ship has left Ukraine's post of Odesa since the Russian invasion brought exports to a halt.

A deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey is hoped to ease a growing food crisis as Ukraine can finally export 22 million tonnes of grain and other agricultural goods which has remained stuck in its Black Sea ports. 

Ukraine is the fourth-largest corn exporter in the world so "the possibility of exporting it via ports is a colossal success in ensuring global food security," Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said. 

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni left Odesa carrying more than 26,000 tons of corn destined for Lebanon.

Mr Kubrakov added: “Today Ukraine, together with partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger." 

The ship is set to dock in Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon at the entrance of the Bosporus, where joint teams of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials will board it for inspections.


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The corn will then head to o Lebanon, a nation in the grip of what the World Bank has described as one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years.

A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut shattered its capital city and destroyed grain silos there, part of which collapsed on Sunday after a weeks-long fire.

“The problems they have are obvious, there is a war. But it is the only place where the two sides are able to come together,” Mr Hulusi Akar said. “Despite the ups and downs, there is a good environment for dialogue.”

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said 16 more ships, all blocked since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, are waiting their turn at Odesa.

Mr Kubrakov said the shipments would also help Ukraine’s war-shattered economy.

“Unlocking ports will provide at least 1 billion dollars in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” he said.

The UN welcomed the development, saying that secretary-general Antonio Guterres hopes the shipments would “bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts”.

The resumption of the grain shipments came as fighting raged in Ukraine.