Ukraine hopeful grain shipment can begin this week

STORY: Ukrainian officials appeared optimistic on Monday, saying grain could start moving again from the country’s Black Sea ports within a matter of days.

“We expect the first shipment to be completed this week.”

The U.N. echoed the deputy infrastructure minister's sentiment.

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N. agreed to a deal last week allowing safe passage in and out of three Ukrainian ports, aimed at easing global food shortages.

But a Russian missile strike on the port of Odesa the next day raised questions about whether it would still go ahead.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brushed off criticism on Monday, saying Moscow only targets military infrastructure.

"Speaking about the episode which you mentioned that happened in Odesa, there is nothing in the commitments that Russia signed up to in Istanbul on July 22 that would prohibit us from continuing our special military operation, destroying Ukrainian military infrastructure and other military targets."

Ukraine's grain exports have been stalled since February, when Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it calls a "special military operation."

Before that, Ukraine and Russia accounted for one-third of global wheat exports.

Rising energy prices and a global wheat shortage are some of the most far-reaching effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing its food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said officials are taking steps to make sure product moves safely.

“All convoys will be accompanied by Ukrainian rescue vessels. They will go first along with the vessels of the Ministry of Infrastructure. But we must say that this is not a simple process.”