Two cargo vessels have left a port near Odesa, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said on Friday (1 September) – the third and fourth to transit from deep-water Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea since Russia withdrew from a safe-passage deal for grain ships.
Oleksandr Kubrakov said the bulk carriers Anna-Theresa and Ocean Courtesy had left the port of Pivdennyi through a temporary corridor for civilian vessels.
Russia has blockaded Ukrainian ports since it invaded its neighbour in February 2022, and threatened to treat all vessels as potential military targets after pulling out of the UN-backed Ukrainian grain deal in July.
In response, Ukraine announced a “humanitarian corridor” hugging the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria. Two vessels stuck in Ukrainian ports during the invasion have thus far been able to use it to leave.
The Anna-Theresa and Ocean Courtesy were, respectively, carrying 56,000 metric tons of pig iron and 172,000 tons of iron ore concentrate, Kubrakov wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
LSEG interactive map data showed the two vessels more than 10 km (6 miles) from the shore on Friday, under way using their engines and heading south-east.
Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko, who is from Odesa, posted on the Telegram app on Friday that two ships were seen near the city. He posted a photograph showing two distant ships. Reuters could not immediately verify the date or location of the photo.
Two ships were spotted near Odesa that left the port.
The first ship is FILIA GLORY under the flag of Liberia. On the Marine traffic website, it is indicated that it goes from Odesa to Varna.
The second vessel is the OCEAN COURTESY under the flag of the Marshall Islands. Marine… pic.twitter.com/HRV7MNSwGc
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) September 1, 2023
The grain agreement had allowed Ukraine, a major agricultural exporter, to ship tens of millions of tons of produce to other countries during Russia’s invasion.
Unlike Bulgaria or Romania, Turkey has been the only country to denounce the Ukrainian ‘humanitarian corridor’ as dangerous.
Two Turkish sources said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet on Monday and primarily discuss Black Sea grain exports.
(Edited by Georgi Gotev)