Ukraine’s first bulk carrier sets sail; Grain tycoon killed in Russia attack

  • Ukraine’s first grain ship bound for Lebanon
  • Turkey says more ships will follow
  • Russian missiles hit the port of Mykolaiv
  • Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadatursky assassinated in Mykolaiv
  • Putin’s maritime ambitions include the Black Sea, the Arctic

Kyiv, Aug 1 (Reuters) – The first grain export ship to sail from Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion will depart on Monday under a guaranteed safe passage deal, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said, adding that more will follow.

The Sierra Leonean-flagged ship Razoni will leave Odessa port for Lebanon with its cargo of maize, the ministry said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has triggered a global food and energy crisis that is shaking the global economy. The United Nations has warned of a global hunger crisis with a “real risk” of multiple famines this year.

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Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of world wheat exports. But Western sanctions on Russia and fighting along Ukraine’s east coast have prevented grain ships from leaving ports safely.

Razoni’s departure was made possible after Moscow, Kyiv, Ankara and the United Nations signed a grain and fertilizer export agreement in July. The agreement aims to allow safe passage of grain shipments in and out of Chornomorsk, Odessa and the port of Pivdennyi.

“It has been agreed that the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship named Razoni, which is loaded with maize, will depart Odessa port at 08:30 a.m. (0530 GMT) on August 1 to go to Lebanon.” said the Turkish Defense Ministry. in a note

“Other ships within the scope of the determined corridor and method are planned to be deployed” as part of the July deal, he said.

Ukrainian officials have said there were 17 ships berthed in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports carrying nearly 600,000 tons of cargo. Of them, 16 had Ukrainian grain with a total volume of about 580,000 tons.

Russia has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports and Ukraine for undermining access to its ports.

PORT BOMBING

On Sunday, Russian missiles bombarded Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv as President Vladimir Putin signed a new naval doctrine that portrays the United States as Russia’s main rival and lays out maritime ambitions in the Black Sea and the Arctic.

Putin did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during a Navy Day speech, but said the navy would receive Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles in the coming months. The missiles can travel at nine times the speed of sound, overcoming air defenses. read more

Navy Day celebrations in the port of Sevastopol were interrupted when five Russian navy personnel were injured in an explosion after a suspected drone flew into the Russian Black Sea fleet yard, the governor of the port city of Crimea, Mikhail Razvozhayev, to the Russian media.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield reports.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said more than 12 missile strikes on Sunday, probably the most powerful on the city in five months of war, hit homes and schools, with two confirmed dead and three wounded. The missile attacks continued until Sunday night.

Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of the Nibulon agricultural company, and his wife were killed in their home, Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

Headquartered in Mykolaiv, a strategically important city bordering the largely Russian-occupied Kherson region, Nibulon specializes in the production and export of wheat, barley and corn, and has its own fleet and shipyard.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Vadatursky’s death as “a great loss for the whole of Ukraine”.

Zelenskiy added that the businessman, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest according to Forbes, which estimates his 2021 net worth at $430 million, had been building a modern grain market with a network of terminals and elevators.

“It is these people, these companies, precisely the south of Ukraine, that have ensured the food security of the world,” Zelenskiy said in his evening speech. “This was always like this. And it will be once again.”

Zelenskiy said Ukraine may harvest only half its usual amount this year due to the disruption of agriculture due to the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II. Farmers have reported trying to harvest amid Russian shelling of their fields.

EASTERN DANGER

After failing to quickly capture the capital Kyiv early in the war, Russia has turned its attention to eastern and southern Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said that Russia had been transferring some forces from the eastern Donbas region to the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“As reported by the Ukrainian authorities last week, Russia is likely to be redeploying a significant number of its forces from the northern Donbas sector to southern Ukraine,” the British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update.

He said that Russia was probably adjusting the operational design of its Donbas offensive and had probably identified its Zaporizhzhia front as vulnerable and in need of reinforcement.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and Ukraine says Russia is seeking to do the same with the Donbas region and tie it to Crimea. Russian-backed separatists controlled parts of the region before the invasion.

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Reuters bureau reports; Written by Michael Perry; Edited by Robert Birsell

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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