Two Palau-flagged bulk carriers, the Aroyat and the Resilient Africa, docked at the Chornomorsk seaport in the southern Odessa region on Saturday, according to an online statement from the Ukrainian Port Authority. These ships are the first civilian cargo ships to reach one of Odessa’s ports since Russia left the Union. cereal business.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said in an online statement on Saturday that the two ships would deliver some 20,000 tonnes of wheat to countries in Africa and Asia.
For months, Kiev, whose economy relies heavily on agriculture, has been able to safely export its grain from Black Sea ports thanks to a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to ensure safe shipments. . But Russia withdrew from the deal on July 17, with Kremlin officials arguing that their demands to facilitate Russian shipments of food and fertilizer had not been met.
Following the withdrawal, the Russian Defense Ministry said it would consider all ships in the Black Sea heading towards Ukrainian ports as military targets.
Since then, kyiv has sought to reroute transportation via the Danube and road and rail links to Europe. But transportation costs in this way are much higher. Some European countries have balked at the resulting local grain prices, and Danube ports cannot handle the same volume as seaports.
The interim corridor in the Black Sea, which Kiev has asked the International Maritime Organization to ratify, was opened on August 10 as U.S. and Ukrainian officials warned of possible Russian attacks on civilian ships. Sea mines also make travel risky and ship insurance costs are likely to be high for operators.
Ukrainian officials said the corridor would be used mainly to evacuate ships stuck in the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odessa and Pivdennyi since the start of the war. Kubrakov said on Saturday that five ships had since used the corridor to leave Ukrainian ports.
After breaking the grain deal, Russia intensified its attacks on the southern Odessa region, targeting its port infrastructure and grain silos with missiles and drones.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian Air Force command reported another attack overnight, with the Odessa region as the main target. Russian forces fired 10 cruise missiles and six Iranian-made Shahed drones, the statement said. All drones and six missiles were shot down, while the rest hit an agricultural facility in the Odessa region.