UN Still Works on Details for Safe Shipments of Ukraine Grain

The first shipment of grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port could take place as early as Friday. UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Thursday, noting, however, that they’re still working on crucial details for the safe passage of vessels.

Griffiths told UN member states that there is a detailed negotiation based on the agreement with standard operating procedures compiled last Friday by the Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian military officials with a UN team at a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul.

Acknowledging that the devil was in the details, Griffiths said that no major issues had emerged so far and that one of the negotiated aspects is the exact coordinates of the safe shipping channels.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited on Friday the Black Sea port in the Odesa region as crews prepared terminals to export grain trapped by five-the month-old war Russia waged.

Zelensky met on Friday with the G7 ambassadors to Ukraine gathered at the Chornomorsk port in a show of unity following the agreement.

The shipments – the first loaded since the beginning of the war – are part of the deal struck to allow the transport of critical food supplies to millions of impoverished people worldwide that are facing hunger. It aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of the Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi ports.

However, Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Friday that no date has been set yet for the first shipment of the grain from two Black Sea ports – where 17 already loaded vessels are trapped – though he hopes the first vessels would start leaving port by the end of this week.

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has sent food prices soaring and stoked a global food crisis since both Russia and Ukraine are major global wheat suppliers. If the war, which is now in its fifth month, in Ukraine continues the UN’s World Food Program warns that up to 47 million more people could face acute food insecurity.