KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A U.N.-chartered ship carrying 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain for Ethiopia left a Black Sea port Sunday, the first shipment of its kind in a program to help countries struggling with drought.
The Liberian-flagged Brave Commander departed from the Ukrainian port of Yuzhne, east of Odesa, according to regional governor Maxim Marchenko. It plans to go to Djibouti, where the grain will be unloaded and transferred to Ethiopia under the World Food Program initiative.
Ukraine and Russia reached an agreement with Turkey on July 22 to resume grain deliveries from the Black Sea to deal with major export disruptions since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Ethiopia is one of five countries that the UN considers to be at risk of famine.
“The potential is there. There is grain. There is a demand all over the world and especially in these countries,” Dennis Brown, WFP Ukraine coordinator, told The Associated Press. “So if the stars align, we’re very hopeful that all the actors around this deal will come together that it really is an issue for humanity. So today was a very positive day.”
On the front line, Russian forces fired rockets at Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine on Sunday, killing at least one person. The region is just north of the Russian-held city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces have vowed to retake. Ukrainian emergency services said one person was killed in the shooting early Sunday in the village of Bereznehuvet in Mykolaiv.
Meanwhile, a Russian diplomat called on Ukraine to provide security guarantees so that international inspectors could visit a nuclear power plant in Ukraine. which has come under fire.
As fighting escalates in southern Ukraine, concerns over the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant have grown., which has been occupied by Russian forces and has been hit by sporadic gunfire. Both Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the shooting, which officials say malfunctioned monitoring equipment and could lead to a nuclear disaster.
Ukraine’s nuclear power operator said on Sunday that one person was reportedly killed in a Russian rocket attack on the town of Enrhodar, where the plant is located. The Russian-controlled local government also reported the attack and deaths, but blamed it on Ukrainian forces.
The Zaporizhia facility is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations based in Vienna, called on Ukraine to stop attacking the plant to allow an inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“It is important that the Ukrainians stop shelling the station and guarantee the safety of the members of the mission. An international team cannot be sent to work under constant artillery fire,” he was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency Tass on Sunday.
Ukraine says Russia is shelling nearby areas from the plant and stockpiling weapons there.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine