One cargo vessel carrying grain has left the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Chornomorsk for the first time since a grain deal collapsed, an industry source told Reuters on Tuesday, in a test of Ukraine’s ability to unblock its seaports for grain export.
Ukraine last month announced a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to release ships trapped in its ports since Russia invaded the country in February 2022 and to circumvent a de facto blockade after Russia abandoned a deal to let Kyiv export grain.
The bulk carriers Resilient Africa and Aroyat arrived in Ukraine on Saturday and were due to depart after loading almost 20,000 metric tons of wheat for Africa and Asia.
The source did not name the ship that had left, while the MarineTraffic database showed only Aroyat moored in Chornomorsk near Odesa on Tuesday morning.
The loading is a test of Ukraine’s ability to reopen shipping lanes at a time when Russia is trying to re-impose its de facto blockade.
Moscow has launched frequent drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian grain export infrastructure.
Odesa’s three seaports, including Chornomorsk, shipped tens of millions of tons of grain during Russia’s invasion under a U.N.-brokered deal which collapsed when Moscow withdrew.
Five of several vessels that had been stuck in Odesa have so far left the port, using the temporary corridor which hugs the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria.
The Black Sea grain deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in July 2022 to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Anna Pruchnicka; Editing by Christopher Cushing)