Ukraine's war... The first ship loaded with grain to leave the port of Odessa, Russia is redistributing its forces

Ukraine’s war… The first ship loaded with grain to leave the port of Odessa, Russia is redistributing its forces

On Monday morning, the first ship loaded with grain left the port of Odessa, southern Ukraine, heading towards Lebanon, according to the agreement recently concluded in Istanbul, and this comes while Kyiv and British intelligence said that Russia is strengthening its forces in southern Ukraine.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the ship “Razoni” – flying the Sierra Leone flag – is the first ship to leave the Ukrainian port of Odessa since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine on February 24, adding that other shipments will follow along the sea lanes.

The ministry added that this step comes within the framework of the Turkish side’s contacts with ministers and relevant parties and intensive work.

Later, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kobrakov and the Ukrainian army confirmed the departure of the ship loaded with corn from the port of Odessa.

For its part, the Coordination Center in Istanbul said that the ship was carrying 26,000 tons of corn, indicating that it would arrive in Turkish waters tomorrow, Tuesday.

Al-Jazeera correspondent said that the Ukrainian grain ship will be inspected by the Joint Coordination Team and will not have a military escort, adding that it will be monitored during its journey via satellite.

This development comes after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held telephone talks yesterday with the Ukrainian Defense and Infrastructure Ministers.

In statements reported by the Anatolia News Agency, Akar said today that the ships loaded with Ukrainian grain will follow the same mechanism as the first shipment, noting that the ship that left the port of Odessa will dock tomorrow afternoon off the coast of Istanbul to undergo a joint inspection.

Breakout for the world

In the reactions, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the resumption of his country’s exports of grain is a breakthrough for the world.

In turn, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the move, saying that ensuring the transfer of grain to global markets is a humanitarian necessity.

The Ukrainian authorities had announced earlier that preparations had been completed to start exporting grain.

In addition to the port of Odessa, other ships are expected to transport grain from the ports of Chornomorsk and Yuzhny in southern Ukraine.

Under the agreement recently concluded in Istanbul between Ukraine and Russia under the auspices of Turkey and the United Nations, Turkish and UN teams are supposed to inspect ships before they enter Ukrainian ports.

The agreement is valid for a period of 120 days, subject to extension, and allows the export of between 20 and 25 million tons of suspended grain in Ukraine.

A Russian military convoy in the Ukrainian province of Zaporozhye (Reuters)

From east to south

In military developments, British intelligence said today that Russia will redistribute a large number of its forces from the north of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine to the areas under its control in the south.

British intelligence added that Russia considers the Zaporozhye front to be fragile and needs reinforcements.

She also said that during the past four days, the Russian forces tried to launch attacks, which she described as tactical, on the Bakhmut axis, northeast of Donetsk, and were only able to make slow progress.

The Russian forces had recently taken control of most of the Lugansk province, and then began to launch attacks to control the neighboring Donetsk province. The two provinces make up the Donbass region, parts of which have been controlled by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated that Russian forces are currently moving from the east of the country to the Kherson and Zaporozhye provinces in the south.

Earlier, the Ukrainian General Staff announced that Russian forces were transferring units to the areas under its control in southern Ukraine.

On the ground, the Ukrainian army announced today that it destroyed 4 military bases and ammunition depots for the Russian forces in attacks in Kherson and Mykolaiv (south) provinces, killing dozens of Russian soldiers.

The Ukrainian army also announced that it had targeted Russian stations that monitor military communications and the movement of drones in southern Ukraine.

Yesterday evening, the Ukrainian President condemned the recent Russian bombing of the city of Mykolaiv, stressing that the Ukrainian army would respond.

In his daily video address, Zelensky described the Russian bombing of Mykolaiv as brutal.

The Ukrainian army had said yesterday that its forces were engaged in violent battles with the Russian forces between the Mykolaiv and Kherson provinces, pointing to the use of artillery, missile launchers and warplanes in these battles.

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