He told reporters in the southern port of Odesa that 17 vessels trapped by a five-month Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports were already loaded with grain, and another was now being loaded.
He hoped the first vessels would leave the port by this week’s end.
Russia and Ukraine are major global wheat suppliers. The agreement they signed in Istanbul last week is intended to ease an international food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of its neighbor on Feb. 24.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said the president had visited the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk on Friday. It quoted him as saying Ukraine was ready to start shipping grain and that Kyiv was awaiting a signal from its international partners to start the first shipment.
The agreement aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of the Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi ports, blockaded by Russia since its invasion. Moscow blames Ukraine for stalling shipments by mining the port waters.
Kubrakov, who signed the agreement for Ukraine, said Chornomorsk and Odesa were ready to start shipping grain and that he hoped Pivdennyi port would also be ready by the end of this week.
LOWER GRAIN PRICES SOUGHT
“In total, 17 ships were loaded before the war. Today we began the loading of another ship at Chornomorsk. We have, in principle, solved almost all technical questions,” Kubrakov said.
“We hope that today we will receive confirmation from the U.N. regarding the proposed corridor in which the ships will sail through the Black Sea towards the Bosphorus, and after this we (will be) ready to begin. I hope that the first ships will leave our ports before the end of this week.”
Kubrakov did not say what volumes of grain would be shipped and gave no further details of the planned cargoes.