Live: ‘Too soon’ to celebrate resumption of grain shipments, Zelensky says

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The first shipment of Ukrainian grain since the Russian invasion in February left the port of Odesa on Monday under a landmark deal to lift Moscow’s naval blockade in the Black Sea. Kyiv said the departure of the Razoni cargo ship would bring “relief for the world” – if Moscow respected its side of the accord. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

06:18am: Corn, wheat prices fall as Ukraine resumes grain shipping, but Zelensky warns against celebrating too soon

US corn and wheat futures fell on Monday as the first grain ship left a Ukrainian port using a newly agreed safe shipping channel, raising hopes that Ukraine’s sea-borne exports can resume on a large scale after being blocked by war.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans settled down 62-1/2 cents at $14.06 per bushel. December corn ended down 10-1/4 cents at $6.09-3/4 a bushel and CBOT September wheat fell 7-1/2 cents to end at $8.00-1/4.

The five-month halt of deliveries from Ukraine – one of the world’s biggest grain exporters – has contributed to soaring food prices, hitting the world’s poorest nations especially hard.

Kyiv said the departure of the Razoni cargo ship would bring “relief for the world” – if Moscow respected its side of the accord – but President Volodymyr Zelensky cautioned it was too soon to celebrate.

“At this time, it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts,” Zelensky said in his daily video address.

“Let’s wait and see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

05:49am: US accuses Russia of using Ukraine power plant as ‘nuclear shield’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called Russia’s actions around Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant “the height of irresponsibility,” accusing Moscow of using it as a “nuclear shield” in attacks on Ukrainian forces.

Russia in March was accused of firing shells dangerously close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as its forces took it over in the first weeks of the invasion of Ukraine.

Washington is “deeply concerned” that Moscow was now using the plant as a military base and firing on Ukrainian forces from around it, Blinken told reporters after nuclear nonproliferation talks at the United Nations in New York.

“Of course the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant,” he said.

Russia’s actions went beyond using a “human shield,” Blinken said, calling it a “nuclear shield.”

The Russian mission to the United Nations in New York strongly rejected Blinken’s accusations.

“We repeatedly stated that actions of our armed forces in no way undermine Ukraine’s nuclear security or impede routine operation of the NPP (nuclear power plant),” the Russian UN  mission said in a statement.

03:36am: World Bank surveys ‘extreme’ food price hikes in poor countries

According to a Food Security Update published by the World Bank on Monday, Lebanon faces the world’s worst food inflation, with prices rising 332 percent over the last year. (Lebanon is the destination of the first grain ship to leave Ukraine’s Odesa port under a UN-backed deal.)

Zimbabwe and Venezuela have also seen triple-digit increases, with Turkey, Iran, Sri Lanka and Argentina next-worst hit. The World Bank highlights the war in Ukraine as a key factor behind the rising prices and food insecurity, alongside a historic drought in the Horn of Africa.

FRANCE 24’s Kate Moody breaks down some of the Bank’s key findings:

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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