Razoni cargo ship
(The cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, near Istanbul, Photo: Mehmet Emin Caliskan/Reuters)

Ship carrying first Ukraine grain cargo appears to dock in Syria

The Razoni, the first ship to depart Ukraine under a deal to resume grain exports from the country two weeks ago has docked in the Syrian port of Tartus, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (Aug. 16).

The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel set sail from Ukraine’s Odesa port on Aug. 1 under the deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, but stopped transmitting its location signal early on Friday (Aug. 12). The cargo of 26,000 tonnes of corn had originally been destined for Lebanon, but the original buyer refused the delivery on quality grounds and the ship sailed to Turkey, docking in Mersin on Aug. 11. When it set sail again the following day, it did not keep its transponder on.

Satellite photos from the European Space Agency appeared to show the vessel anchored just outside Tartus on Saturday (Sat. 13). Two shipping sources, one of them in Tartous, confirmed to Reuters on Sunday (Aug. 14) that the ship was approaching the northwest Syrian port. Tartus is the site of a Russian naval base.

Ukraine’s Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov stated on Tuesday (Aug. 16) that the country might export three million tonnes of grain next month. Earlier today, Turkey announced that five more ships transporting grain have left Ukrainian ports and that they will be inspected in the Istanbul control center. The Joint Coordination Center (JCCC) in Istanbul was established as part of a signed agreement between Russia and Ukraine to secure export shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to the global market.

Last month, Ukrainian grain export increased by 22.7% compared to June, before the United Nations-brokered grain deal was agreed upon. Corn accounted for 41% of all July’s exports. Ukraine along with Russia, accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports before Russia sent troops in Ukraine.

With reporting by The Financial Times, Reuters