Snubbed Ukrainian grain heading to Russia-friendly Syria – Reuters
The first vessel to raise anchor after the grain deal was struck has had to change course after a Lebanese buyer rejected the shipment
The first grain ship to leave Ukraine since an internationally brokered deal to resume exports is approaching the Syrian port of Tartus after failing to offload its cargo in Lebanon, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing two shipping sources.
Exports from Ukraine had been disrupted for months after Russia launched a military operation in the neighboring country.
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni left Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa on August 1, carrying 26,000 tons of corn. According to the tracking website MarineTraffic.com, the ship is sailing in the eastern Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and the Syrian coast. The Razoni previously docked in Mersin, Turkey on Thursday.
The cargo was originally intended for Lebanon, but the buyer refused to accept it due to concerns over quality stemming from the long delay. The Ukrainian embassy in the country said on Monday that the shipper was looking for other options to offload the corn in Lebanon or elsewhere.
The agreement to resume the shipments from Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, was reached late last month. Kiev previously accused Moscow of blockading its ports, while Russia insisted that vessels could not sail due to Ukrainian naval mines.
Syria and Russia have had close ties since the Soviet times. Russian warplanes operate out of the country’s Khmeimim air base during missions against Islamist terrorist groups, while Tartus is a point of service for the Russian Navy. In June, Syria became the second country after Russia to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine in 2014.