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Ukraine announces temporary corridors for merchant vessels in Black Sea

Ukraine said Thursday it had opened maritime routes for civilian vessels from several Black Sea ports, following Moscow's decision to exit an agreement allowing safe passage for grain exports from the transit hubs.

Anadolu Agency & AFP WORLD
Published August 10,2023
Turkish-flagged bulker TQ Samsun, carrying grain under UN's Black Sea Grain Initiative, is pictured in the Black Sea, north of Bosphorus Strait, off Istanbul, Türkiye July 17, 2023. (REUTERS File Photo)

Ukraine on Thursday declared that temporary corridors have been established for merchant vessels arriving at and departing from the country's ports in the Black Sea.

"In accordance with the order of the navigation instructions … dated 08.08.2023, new temporary traffic routes of civilian vessels to/from the Black Sea ports of Ukraine were announced," the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook.

At the same time, the statement said there is a military threat and a danger of sea mines from Russia along all routes in the Black Sea, which Ukraine raised in an appeal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

"The Council of the International Maritime Organization recognized Ukraine's right to free commercial navigation, which is guaranteed by international maritime law. The International Maritime Organization called on Russia to comply with international conventions and stop threats to commercial shipping in the Black Sea," it added.

The statement said the specified routes will primarily be used for civilian ships that have been in Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, namely Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Pivdennyi, since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

"Vessels whose owners/captains officially confirm that they are ready to sail in the current conditions will be allowed to pass through the routes," it added.

On July 17, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal, saying that the Russian part of the agreement had not been implemented. It sought the loosening of banking restrictions and the ability to ship its fertilizer before returning to the agreement

The agreement, initially signed in July of last year in Istanbul by Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine, was aimed at resuming grain exports from Ukrainian ports halted due to the Russia-Ukraine war, which began in February 2022.

Türkiye has said that Western countries should try to address Russia's complaints and that it hopes Russia returns to the deal.