Two cargo vessels arrived in Ukraine on Saturday, Ukrainian port authorities said, the first ships to use a temporary corridor to sail into Black Sea ports and load grain for African and Asian markets.
Ukraine last month announced a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to release ships trapped in its ports since the start of the war in February last year and to circumvent a de facto blockade after Russia abandoned a deal to let Kyiv export grain.
Five vessels have so far left the port of Odesa, using the corridor which hugs the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria.
Ukraine, a leading global food producer and exporter, also wants to use the corridor for its food exports.
The Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority, in a post on Facebook, said that the bulk carriers Resilient Africa and Aroyat had arrived in the port of Chernomorsk.
They were due to load almost 20,000 tonnes of wheat for Africa and Asia, Ukranian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said earlier.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture on Telegram said that the wheat would be shipped to Egypt and Israel.
“While the UN is not involved in the movement of those vessels, we welcome all efforts for the resumption of normal trade, especially of vital food commodities that help supply and stabilize global food markets,” a UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “We continue our efforts to facilitate exports for agricultural products from both Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”
The loadings are a test of Ukraine’s ability to reopen shipping lanes at a time when Russia is trying to reimpose its de facto blockade, having abandoned the grain deal in July.
Moscow has launched frequent drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian grain export infrastructure.
The Black Sea grain deal was brokered by the UN and Turkey in July last year to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.
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