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First ship carrying grain from Ukraine reaches Turkey

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying grain from Ukraine, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey, August 2, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain to leave Ukraine since Russia launched a military campaign against the country has reached Turkish waters.

The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni anchored at the edge of the Bosphorus Strait on Tuesday.

Under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, the vessel is due to be inspected near Istanbul on Wednesday by a team that includes Russian and Ukrainian officials before delivering its cargo of 26,000 tons of maize to Tripoli, Lebanon.

The landmark deal lifted Moscow's naval blockade in the Black Sea, allowing millions of tons of grain to be exported to world markets to help curb a global food crisis. The banned export of grain from Ukraine, which is one of the world's major exporters of maize, has contributed to soaring food prices, hitting the world's poorest nations the hardest.

Turkey, a NATO member state, shares a sea border with both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Ankara has offered its services to accompany maritime convoys from Ukrainian ports.

Kiev says at least 16 more grain ships are waiting to depart.

Relations between Kiev and Moscow began to deteriorate in 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation. Western countries backed Kiev, refused to recognize the referendum results, and imposed sanctions on Moscow.

An armed conflict erupted that same year between ethnic Russians in Ukraine's east and the government in Kiev. That region is now under the control of Russian military forces.

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