The first vessel with Ukrainian grain departed on Monday from the port of Odessa.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense said the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, which was loaded with corn, left Odessa for Lebanon.
The ministry said in a statement that other ships would also leave Ukrainian ports through safe corridors in accordance with agreements signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.
Russia and Ukraine have signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN, opening up for Ukraine – one of the world’s key suppliers – the ability to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural commodities that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to Russia’s invasion.
The deals also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer.
Separately, Ukraine called on all people who still live in the frontline Donetsk region to evacuate to safer areas of the country to avoid further fighting, destruction and a winter without heating.
Deadly Russian shelling and rocket attacks continued to hit government-controlled communities in eastern and southern Ukraine, and in the port of Mykolaiv, the owner of a major Ukrainian grain trading company was killed along with his wife when a rocket hit their home.
Meanwhile, Russian officials said six people were injured in a drone blast at the headquarters of the country’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. Sevastopol, where the incident took place.
“Many people [in Donetsk region] refuse to leave. But it really needs to be done. And the sooner it’s done. . . the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“There is a government decree on mandatory evacuation from the Donetsk region, everything is being organized. Full support, full help. . . Go away, we’ll help.”
After Russian forces failed to capture Kyiv and Kharkov, Ukraine’s two main cities, they focused on capturing the two eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Now they de facto control the Lugansk region and part of Donetsk, and many areas lie in ruins.
“There is absolutely no gas supply in the Donetsk region, all gas pipelines that could be repaired have been repaired, but, unfortunately, the enemy repeatedly destroys everything that could warm people in winter,” said Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk.
“There is no normal power supply. In a word, there will be no heating in the Donetsk region in winter,” she added, noting that up to 220,000 people remained in the region, including 52,000 children.
Moscow’s military is slowly advancing east while consolidating its position in the south of the Kherson region, where the Ukrainian army has recaptured villages and hit Russian weapons depots, fuel depots and command posts ahead of a planned counterattack.
Government-controlled Mykolaiv, nestled between occupied Kherson and Kyiv-held Odessa on the Black Sea coast, is currently under heavy shelling, and Alexei Vadatursky, owner of Nibulon, a large agricultural company, and his wife were killed in a rocket attack on Sunday.
Some Kyiv officials have said Moscow has deliberately targeted the home of a leading figure in Ukraine’s agriculture and food sector, just as their country is preparing to resume grain shipments from Black Sea ports that the Russian navy has been blockading for five months.
“I fell [details] will be completed by tomorrow [Monday]“It looks like there is a good chance that the first ship will leave the port tomorrow,” said Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey and the UN have reached agreements to lift the Russian blockade, which Ukraine says could allow it to send 20 million tons of stuck grain to world markets.
Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said six people were injured in an explosion in the courtyard of the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which he blamed for the Ukrainian drone attack. The Kyiv authorities rejected this statement.
Zelensky called on the UN and the Red Cross to investigate the death of about 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Azov regiment in an explosion in a pre-trial detention center in occupied Donetsk on Friday.
British MP Chris Bryant called for the expulsion of all Russian diplomats in London after their embassy tweeted: “Azov fighters deserve to be executed, but not by shooting, but by hanging because they are not real soldiers. They deserve a humiliating death.” — Additional reporting: AP