A ship carrying Ukrainian grain has departed the Black Sea for the first time since the start of Russia’s invasion, with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken calling it a “significant step” in moving millions of tons of grain that have been stuck in Ukraine’s ports since February.
In a statement released Wednesday, Mr. Blinken said it raises hopes for those facing food insecurity around the world. He commended the United Nations and Turkey for mediating the diplomacy that resulted in the move.
“But this is only a first step and continued implementation of the July 21 U.N.-facilitated deal is essential to bolster food security around the world,” Mr. Blinken said. “Russia must meet its commitments, including by facilitating unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports.”
The first vessel to carry Ukrainian grain since Moscow’s invasion was the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni. The United Nations said it is hauling 26,000 tons of corn and is bound for Lebanon.
“The Secretary-General hopes that this will be the first of many commercial ships moving in accordance with the initiative signed and that this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security, especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts,” the U.N. said in a statement.
The departure of the Razoni is only a first step, Mr. Blinken said, stressing that Russia must meet its commitments to the deal, which includes facilitating the unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports.
“Russia must also end its attacks that are rendering farmland in Ukraine unusable and destroying agricultural infrastructure,” he said. “As long as Russia continues its aggression, the Ukrainian people and the world’s most vulnerable will continue to suffer its effects.”