International inspectors have begun inspecting the first freighter loaded with Ukrainian grain since the start of Russia’s war of aggression. Experts from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations boarded the Razoni in Istanbul on Wednesday morning and began their work, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.
The inspectors should ensure that no illegal cargo is loaded. According to the broadcaster CNN Türk, the team consists of 20 people. The inspection takes about an hour.
The experts were brought to the freighter in two boats, as TV images showed. After the release, the freighter is to pass the Bosphorus and continue across the Mediterranean to Lebanon.
The ship loaded with around 26,000 tons of corn from Ukraine arrived on Tuesday evening at the Black Sea entrance to the Bosphorus Strait running through Istanbul and anchored there shortly after 9 p.m. local time.
The “Razoni” was the first ship to leave the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday as part of the grain agreement signed by Ukraine and Russia. First, it had to be guided safely through mined waters near the Ukrainian coast via a special sea corridor.
War opponents Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement with Turkey separately on July 22, through the mediation of the United Nations, in Istanbul to allow grain exports from Ukraine from three ports. This also marked the establishment of the coordination center in Istanbul, which is staffed by representatives of the four parties. Just a day later, however, the Russian military fired rockets at the port of Odessa.
According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, the inspectors of the center will be brought to the freighter by boat. Among other things, they should ensure that no weapons are loaded. The freighter, flying the flag of the West African state of Sierra Leone, is then to pass the Bosporus. It was initially unclear how long the inspection would take. The destination of the ship is the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
With the deliveries from the Ukraine, millions of tons of grain should once again be available for the world market. The food is urgently needed, especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The United Nations recently warned of the worst famine in decades.