The vessels are carrying dozens of tons of corn, sunflower seeds, and oil
Four ships loaded with food products have departed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports and are heading to Istanbul for inspection, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday. Ukraine's infrastructure minister, Aleksandr Kubrakov, also confirmed this.
According to the ministry's tweets, the vessel Riva Wind is carrying 44,000 tons of corn to the Turkish city of Iskenderun. The Mustafa Necati is heading to Italy with 6,000 tons of sunflower oil, the Star Helena is transporting 45,000 tons of sunflower seeds to China, and the Glory will deliver 66,000 tons of corn to Istanbul.
"The ships will be anchored in the north of Istanbul and will be inspected by the Joint Coordination Center," the ministry said.
The center was set up under a deal negotiated by Ukraine and Russia and mediated by Turkey and the UN last month. It includes representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN.
One of the ships departed from Odessa, and three from Chernomorsk.
Kubrakov, confirming the departure of the ships, said the number of vessels leaving the Black Sea ports would gradually increase.
"We plan to ensure the ability of ports to handle at least 100 vessels per month in the near future," he added.
The news came one day after Panama-flagged ship Navistar, carrying around 33,000 tons of Ukrainian corn to Ireland, dropped anchor in Istanbul. It was the first ship to depart a Ukrainian port after the recent signing of a grain deal. Two more ships left Ukraine on Friday.
Ukrainian grain exports were suspended after Russia launched its military operation in the country in February, leading to growing concerns over global food supplies. Kiev accused the Russian forces of barring civilian ships from leaving the ports, while Moscow accused Ukraine of mining the waters near its harbors, which prevented maritime traffic.
In late July, Moscow and Kiev agreed in Istanbul on a deal allowing the resumption of exports from Ukrainian ports. The agreement also includes shipments of Russia's grain, as well as fertilizers and the raw materials to produce them.