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A Ukrainian serviceman stands in front of silos of grain from Odesa Black Sea port

A Ukrainian serviceman stands in front of silos of grain from Odesa Black Sea port, before the shipment of grain as the government of Ukraine awaits signal from UN and Turkey to start grain shipments, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine July 29, 2022. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Ukraine Navy Seeks to Reopen Black Sea Ports Shut for Month

Total Views: 2764
August 10, 2023

(Bloomberg) —

Ukraine laid out temporary Black Sea routes for ships that are willing to navigate waters threatened by Russia, as it seeks to reclaim control over its maritime trade. 

The initiative will focus on allowing ships to exit three deep-sea Ukrainian ports, the Navy said in a statement on Facebook. Chornomorsk, Odesa and Pivdennyi have been effectively blockaded since Russia last month exited the grain deal allowing safe passage and threatened any ships sailing to Ukraine. 

Kyiv has repeatedly said that it wants to reopen the trade routes despite the Kremlin’s threats, but it’s challenging. Shipowners are wary of sending vessels and crews into danger, while insurers view Ukraine’s sea ports as unsafe. Russia’s Defense Ministry said last month that all ships headed to Ukraine’s ports would be considered as potentially carrying military cargo.

“Vessels whose owners and captains officially confirm that they are ready to sail in the current conditions will be allowed to pass through the routes,” the Ukraine navy statement said. 

While Russia’s navy and air force are superior to Ukraine’s, western military help and domestic weapons production have allowed Kyiv to boost its capability to strike Russian targets with missiles and, increasingly, naval drones.

The last ship carrying food from Ukraine under the United Nations-brokered Black Sea deal left the port of Odesa on July 16.

Ships currently stuck in Odesa include a containership and two cargo vessels loaded with metal products, according to Dmitry Timotin at Inzernoexport GmbH Agency in Odesa. 

“I suppose it will begin with the sailing of stuck ships, and if there are no accidents, then trade will restart,” he said.   

The routes will allow ships to move in and out of the three ports, despite Russia’s military threat and the risk of mining, the Ukrainian Navy said. 

Katerina Kononenko, an operations manager at Avalon shipping in Romania, said that shipowners with very old fleets, and who are willing to work without insurance, may be willing to use such corridors.

Wheat traded in Chicago shrugged off the development, rising 0.6% to $6.655 a bushel. 

–With assistance from Volodymyr Verbyany.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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