"It is expected in Istanbul on 2 August. It will then continue its journey after it has been inspected in Istanbul," the statement added.

Other convoys would follow, respecting the maritime corridor and the agreed formalities, it said.

The Joint Coordination Centre, the organisation overseeing the grain exports, said the Razoni is carrying "over 26,000 metric tonnes" of maize.

Tycoon killed

While the much needed grain exports will be welcomed, the war in Ukraine rages on.

AFP journalists witnessed intense Russian bombardment of the eastern town of Bakhmut after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called for civilians to leave the frontline Donetsk region bearing the brunt of the Kremlin's offensive.

Authorities in Mykolaiv said Sunday that widespread Russian bombardments overnight killed at least two civilians.

"Today, one of the most brutal shellings of Mykolaiv and the region over the entire period of the full-scale war took place. Dozens of missiles and rockets," Zelensky said in an address.

"I want to thank every resident of Mykolaiv for their indomitability."

Ukrainian agricultural magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky, 74, and his wife Raisa were killed when a missile struck their house, authorities said.

Vadatursky owned major grain exporter Nibulon and was previously decorated with the prestigious "Hero of Ukraine" award.

Zelensky offered condolences and paid tribute to Vadatursky in his Sunday address.

Mykolaiv -- which has been attacked frequently -- is the closest Ukrainian city to the southern front where Kyiv's forces are looking to launch a major counter-offensive to recapture territory lost after Russia's February invasion.

Drone attack

Russian authorities in the Crimean Black Sea peninsula -- seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 -- said a small explosive device from a commercial drone, likely launched nearby, hit the navy command in Sevastopol.

The local mayor blamed "Ukrainian nationalists" for the attack that forced the cancellation of festivities marking Russia's annual holiday celebrating the navy.

But Ukraine's navy accused Russia of staging the attacks as a pretext to cancel the festivities.

The claim and counterclaim came as the dispute over which side struck a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka rumbled on.

Russia's defence ministry said Sunday it had invited the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations to visit the site "in the interests of an objective investigation".

But the ICRC said Sunday it had yet to receive approval to enter the site.

Russia's military said 50 Ukrainian servicemen died, including troops who had surrendered after weeks of resisting the bombardment of the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol.

Ukraine says Russia was behind the attack, with Zelensky accusing Moscow of the "deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war".

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