ISTANBUL - The first grain ship to leave a Ukrainian port in wartime passed inspection and was heading through the Bosphorus on Wednesday for a delivery that foreign powers hope will be the first of many to help ease a global food crisis. The Razoni left Odesa on the Black Sea early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn to Lebanon and anchored at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait on Tuesday night.

The shipment was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertiliser export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv last month - a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a drawn-out war of attrition.

The ship entered the Bosphorus Strait around 1130 GMT, following the completion of the inspection by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel working at a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in nearby Istanbul.

Ukraine said it had 17 more vessels loaded with agricultural products awaiting approval to set sail.

Ukraine's ambassador to Lebanon, Ihor Ostash, said the Razoni was expected to arrive in Tripoli port in four to five days.


Inspection personnel boarded the Razoni after two boats ferried them from a small fishing port at Istanbul's Rumeli Feneri to the ship, which was circled by two coast guard boats while a helicopter flew over.

The JCC said the clearing of the ship after a three-hour inspection concluded the initial "proof of concept" operation.

The inspection team gained valuable information from the crew about the Razoni's journey, which will be used to finetune procedures to continue the safe passage of commercial vessels under the deal, it added.

The U.N.-brokered deal relaunched the export of grains from one of the world's top producers after they were stalled for more than five months after Russia's Feb. 24 invasion. The agreement aims to help ease shortages and rising prices.

After the first successful departure, a senior Turkish official, who requested anonymity, said three ships may leave the three Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea every day, instead of the previously planned one.

The 120-day deal will be extended for a month at a time if exports are not completed due to the weather or problems with inspections, the official said, adding that the initial period appeared sufficient for Ukrainian silos to be emptied.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that more outbound movement was being planned from Ukraine on Wednesday, adding that about 27 ships were covered by the export deal.

(Additional reporting by Bulent Usta, Ali Kucukgocmen, Daren Butler in Istanbul, Tom Balmforth in Kyiv, Timour Azhari in Baabda; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Nick Macfie)