The first ship loaded with wheat leaves a Ukrainian port

Since the opening of the export route, agreed by Moscow and Kiev with the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations, fourteen cargo ships have left for various ports with different cargoes

AFP/DANIEL MIHAILESCU  -   Image of loaded ship

The export of Ukrainian wheat, a product whose shortage threatens to cause famine in Africa and the Middle East, has resumed this Friday two weeks after the corridor was opened to export cereals from ports that had been blocked since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February.

The Belize-flagged Sormovskiy with a cargo of 3,050 tonnes of wheat left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk for Tekirdag in Turkey, the Turkish government announced.

Since the export route, agreed in July between Moscow and Kiev and mediated by Turkey and the United Nations, was opened on 1 August, fourteen cargo ships have left for Turkish, European and Asian ports.

So far, some 367,000 tonnes of maize, 56,000 tonnes of sunflower products and 11,000 tonnes of soybeans have left Ukraine, but only 3,050 tonnes of wheat.

The UN pushed for a deal to open the blockade of Ukrainian ports, triggered by the Russian invasion, warning of the risk of famine and political instability in many countries, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, which are heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat.

The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul, set up to monitor compliance with the agreement, has explained that the small amount of wheat exported so far is due to the fact that many vessels loaded with maize were awaiting permission to leave, and that only when they leave will there be space on the docks to load other products.

AFP/TURKISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE PRESS OFFICE - This photo taken and released on July 13, 2022 by the press office of the Turkish Ministry of Defence shows the military delegations of the United Nations (UN), Turkey, Ukraine and Russia during their quadripartite meeting in Istanbul.

Alongside the Sormovskiy, the cargo ship Star Laura, carrying 60,000 tonnes of maize and bound for Iran, departed the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny, the JCC said in a statement today.

A team of inspectors in Istanbul is checking the cargoes of all ships departing from and heading to Ukraine to certify that they are not carrying arms.

Earlier today, the JCC will inspect the Palau-flagged freighter Sara and the Vanuatu-flagged vessel Efe, both bound for Odessa, carrying liquids or oils.