Ships are backing up along the western edge of the Black Sea at the entrance to the Danube and outside Romania’s Constanta port amid severe uncertainty over how to proceed with exports from Ukraine after multiple Russian attacks on port locations and the decision last week to end the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Russia’s decision to target port infrastructure along the Danube, alongside bombardments of Black Sea port cities such as Odesa has seen ships pull back from making dangerous voyages.
Adding to the Black Sea shipping tension, both Ukraine and Russia have stated they will treat commercial ships heading to enemy ports as potentially carrying military cargoes.
Insurers have indicated that previously available Black Sea war risk cover will no longer be offered as the situation deteriorates.
Dramatic video posted on social media yesterday (see below) captured the moment Russian forces launched a drone strikes on the Danube port of Reni. Another Danube port, Izmail, has also been attacked as part of Russia’s strategy to hit Ukraine’s grain export infrastructure.
Romanian president Klaus Iohannis condemned the attack, calling it an “escalation” that posed risks to wider security in the Black Sea region and global food security. Many ships along the river have decided to drop anchor while waiting for clarification on how to proceed.
Pre-war the Black Sea represented 3.4% of total tanker loadings and 4% of total dry bulk loadings, according to analysis by Jefferies, an investment bank. These have now fallen to 2.3% and 2.8%, respectively, with Jefferies suggesting they could decline more stretching the global fleet further.