Russia tempers expectations of first grain convoy soon

The United Nations expects the first ship with grain to sail from one of Ukraine's three Black Sea ports in the coming days, possibly as early as Friday. The first ships would have already been loaded. 

Shipping companies and ship insurers need to be sure that the transport is safe, without the risk of mines or missile attacks, a UN spokesman emphasized. Dev ships need to be able to move safely, which means we need to have clarity about exactly where the shipping route destined for them is," he added.

In Ukrainian ports, 25 million tons of grain are waiting for export, and the Russian blockade has led to a sharp rise in food prices, fueling the world food crisis that, according to the World Food Program, has led to "severe hunger" among about 47 million people worldwide.

A Russian minister tempered expectations of a first grain convoy soon. He pointed out that it has been agreed that all Western restrictions on Russian food trade would also be lifted, and that has not yet happened, according to Moscow.

A UN spokesman at the Istanbul Coordination Center said grain ships in Turkey will be inspected "to make sure they are not carrying contraband or weapons". These checks are likely to take place at an anchorage north of the Bosphorus, details to be announced later.”

On July 22, Ukraine and Russia signed two separate “mirror agreements” with Turkey and the UN to unblock Ukrainian grain exports through the ports on the Black Sea.

Grain transport ships will be escorted by Turkish warships, and the Ukrainian navy will guide them through the minefields in Ukrainian ports.