Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited a Black Sea port as crews prepared terminals to export grain trapped by Russia’s five-month-old war, work that was inching forward a week after a deal was struck to allow critical food supplies to flow to millions of impoverished people facing hunger worldwide.

“The first vessel, the first ship is being loaded since the beginning of the war,” Zelenskyy, in his signature olive T-shirt, told reporters on Friday as he stood next to a Turkish-flagged ship at the Chernomorsk port in the Odesa region.

He said, however, that the departure of wheat and other grain will begin with several ships that were already loaded but could not leave Ukrainian ports after Russia invaded in late February.

Ukraine is a key global exporter of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil, and the loss of those supplies has raised global food prices, threatened political instability and helped push more people into poverty and hunger in already vulnerable countries.

Moscow has blamed Ukraine for stalling shipments by mining the port waters.

Ukraine’s military is committed to the safety of ships, said Zelenskyy, adding that “it is important for us that Ukraine remains the guarantor of global food security”.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera (NEWS AGENCIES)

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