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Ukrainian Grain Leaves Black Sea; US Authorizes More Arms Shipments

The first ship to carry Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea left the port of Odessa Aug. 1, the White House said, about five months after Russia invaded Ukraine and halted the country’s agricultural shipments. The successful export was a direct result of an agreement between U.N., Russia, Ukraine and Turkey last month (see 2207250004) to start allowing safe passage of Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.

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“We obviously welcome this important step and we hope to see more ships depart in the coming days to travel onward to world markets,” Kirby said during a news conference. Kirby expects Ukraine should soon start being able to ship corn, sunflower oil and other staple agricultural products.

“We urge Russia to meet its commitments under this new arrangement, including by facilitating unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports in order to ease the food insecurity around the world,” Kirby said. The White House will be “watching that closely,” he said.

Kirby also said the White House on Aug. 1 approved a new $550 million security assistance package to Ukraine involving defense articles and services. The package will include more ammunition for advanced rocket systems and other artillery systems that have already been supplied to Ukraine and are “in the field,” Kirby said. The U.S. has now supplied Ukraine with more than $8 billion in defense assistance using presidential draw-down authority since Russia’s invasion, he said.