Ukrainian grain cargo cleared for transit – RT World News

The Razoni was inspected Wednesday before Turkey allowed it to pass through the Bosphorus Strait

The Turkish defense ministry has released images showing an inspection of the Razoni, the first merchant ship in months to transport Ukrainian grain to a foreign customer. The delivery is being conducted under a scheme negotiated with Russia last month.

Checks on Wednesday were carried out by a joint team, which confirmed that the ship complied with the terms of the agreement. The Razoni, a Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship, is transporting over 26,000 tons of corn to Lebanon.

The inspection lasted about three hours, according to the United Nations, after which the freighter sailed to its destination, Tripoli.

The ship left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday on what is hoped to be the first of many voyages intended to alleviate rising global food prices. So far, Razoni is the only merchant ship to leave the three Ukrainian ports authorized to ship under the agreement, with Kiev offering no explanation for the delay.

Ukrainian exports of wheat, one of its main internationally traded commodities, were suspended in the Black Sea after Russia attacked the country in late February. Kiev Russia said it was banning civilian ships from departing, while Moscow said Ukraine was responsible for the arrest, having placed sea mines near its ports to repel possible Russian amphibious assaults. Turkey and the United Nations helped negotiate a compromise agreement, which allowed maritime traffic to resume.

Ankara’s role as broker comes from its control of two straits that all ships must cross to go from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea or vice versa. Turkey hosts a joint coordination center for all four stakeholders. Ship inspections are intended to ensure that they are not used to smuggle weapons into Ukraine or transport goods not covered by the agreement.

Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the Donetsk and Lugansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, mediated by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces”.

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unmotivated.

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