First grain ships arrive in Ukraine using a new route
Ukrainian port authorities have reported that two cargo ships successfully reached a Ukrainian port after traversing the Black Sea using a newly established route.
The ships, named Resilient Africa and Aroyat, arrived at Chornomorsk on a Saturday and were scheduled to load 20,000 tonnes of wheat destined for global markets.
Officials have highlighted that this marks the first instance of civilian ships reaching a Ukrainian port since the termination of an agreement with Russia, which had previously ensured the safety of vessels. Historically, this corridor had primarily been utilized by ships departing from Ukraine.
Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov disclosed that these ships, flying the flag of Palau, an Oceanic island nation, were crewed by individuals from Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Egypt. According to Ukraine’s agricultural ministry, these vessels will transport the wheat to Egypt and Israel.
This development follows Russia’s decision to withdraw from a United Nations-endorsed agreement in July, which had facilitated Ukrainian grain exports from Chornomorsk and two other Black Sea ports.
Russia argued that certain provisions of the agreement, allowing the export of its food and fertilizers, were not being upheld, and it expressed concerns about Western sanctions affecting its agricultural exports.
Subsequently, Russia has issued threats regarding the treatment of civilian ships heading to Ukraine, considering them potential military targets.
Recently, the United Kingdom accused Russia of targeting one such vessel with multiple cruise missiles while it was docked at the Ukrainian port of Odesa.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of crops such as sunflower oil, barley, maize, and wheat.
When Russia invaded in February 2022, its navy blockaded the country’s Black Sea ports – trapping 20 million tonnes of grain which were meant for export.
This caused world food prices to soar and threatened to create shortages in Middle Eastern and African countries, which import significant amounts of food from Ukraine.
Some of these countries, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, and Ethiopia, remain in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
As well as threatening ships passing through the Black Sea, Moscow has increasingly targeted Ukrainian port infrastructure.
It has repeatedly attacked the ports of Izmail and Reni, where much of Ukraine’s grain exports have been leaving from since July, to try and disrupt operations.
Kyiv has accused Russia of a “cynical” attempt to damage its grain exports and undermine global food security.