Kyiv, Ukraine—Four more ships carrying around 170,000 tons of grain set off from the Black Sea ports of Odessa and Chornomorsk on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities said, as Moscow accused Kyiv of carrying out a new strike against a Russian-occupied nuclear plant.
“The second convoy of Ukrainian supplies has just left… three from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa,” Kyiv’s infrastructure ministry wrote on Telegram.
It said that the ships—which it named as the Mustafa Necati, the Star Helena, the Glory and the Riva Wind—were carrying “around 170,000 tons of agriculture-related merchandise,” without specifying further.
The renewed shipments of Ukrainian grain to help ease global food shortages and bring down prices nevertheless offer a small glimmer of hope as the war enters its sixth month.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, had been forced to halt almost all deliveries in the wake of Russia’s invasion on February 24, sending global food prices soaring and making imports prohibitively expensive for some of the world’s poorest nations.
In Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis welcomed the resumption of grain exports as “a sign of hope” that showed dialogue was possible to end the war.
“This step shows that it is possible to dialogue and achieve concrete results, which benefit everyone,” the pontiff said in his weekly Angelus prayer.
“Therefore, this event can be seen as a sign of hope, and I sincerely hope that, following this path, we can put an end to the fighting and arrive at a just and lasting peace.”
The joint coordination center in Istanbul that monitors the shipments under a UN-backed deal had said on Saturday that five grain ships would be leaving Ukraine on Sunday. But Kyiv has only announced four.
A bulk carrier had arrived in Chornomorsk on Saturday to be loaded with grain for the first time since Moscow’s invasion.
Last Monday, the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel, Razoni, set sail from the Ukrainian port of Odessa carrying 26,000 tons of corn in the first departure under the deal that was brokered with the help of Turkey.
Then on Friday, Kyiv said another three ships loaded with grain had also set sail, heading for Turkey and markets in Ireland and Britain with a further 13 waiting to depart.