Ukraine said on Monday it was expected to resume its first grain exports since the start of the war “this week” despite the bombing of a major port by Russian forces on Saturday, following the signing of a deal with Moscow. from Odessa.
“We expect the agreement to come into force in the next few days, and we expect to have a coordination center in Istanbul in the next few days. We are preparing everything starting this week,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told a news conference.
According to him, the main obstacle to the resumption of exports is the risk of Russian bombing, as illustrated by Saturday’s strike against the important Black Sea port of Odessa.
Mr Kubrakov called on Turkey and the United Nations, the guarantors of the agreement, to guarantee the safety of the Ukrainian convoy. “It won’t work if all parties don’t guarantee security,” he warned.
Exports are also hindered by the presence of mines, which Ukrainian forces distribute to guard against Russian amphibious attacks. According to the minister, demining will only take place in “corridors where exits are required”.
He added that Ukrainian ships will accompany the convoy and will be able to transport not only grain but also fertilizers.
Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yuri Vaskov said that the port of Chernomorsk (southwest) will be the first port for exports, followed by the port of Odessa (south) and then Pivden Port Nicholas (South).
“In the next two weeks, we will be technically ready for grain exports from all Ukrainian ports,” he said.
Since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, Ukraine has exported as much as 25 million grains, which are critical to global food security.