Ukrainian grain heading to Russia-ally Syria – Reuters

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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 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.

READ MORE: Buyer rejects Ukrainian grain cargo – media

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 Beirut said on Monday that the shipping agent 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 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 Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine in 2014.

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