Ukraine: Safe passage deal should go beyond grain

STORY: Ukraine has called for a safe passage deal to be extended beyond grain shipments, as three ships set off from Black Sea ports on Friday (August 5).

They set off from the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk and Odesa.

The first inbound cargo vessel was also due later in the day to load up.

The July 22 safe-passage deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, marked a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Ukraine and Russia.

The U.N. has warned the halt in grain exports could cause famine.

The first grain ship left Odesa on Monday (August 1).

Turkey’s foreign ministry said the ships that set sail on Friday were carrying about 58,000 tonnes of corn.

Kyiv now wants the deal to be extended to cover other cargoes such as metals.

The Kremlin said a solution can only be found if linked to lifting restrictions on Russian metal producers.

Ukraine would also like to include ports in the southern Mykolaiv region in the safe passage deal, though it has been frequently shelled throughout the invasion.

Russia and Ukraine produce about one third of global wheat.

But Russia said on Friday it might not reach its expected harvest of 130 million tonnes of grain due to weather factors and a lack of spare parts for foreign-made equipment.

Meanwhile Ukraine's agriculture ministry said its grain exports were down 48.6% year on year at 1.23 million tonnes so far this season.

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