First Ships Hit Ukraine Since Russia’s Grain Deal Exit

( — Two cargo ships made port in Ukraine last weekend using the temporary corridor set up in the Black Sea following Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement to allow safe grain exports from Ukraine’s ports, the Associated Press reported.

The Aroyat and Resilient Africa, both bearing the flags of Palau, docked at the seaport of Chornomorsk in southern Odesa on Saturday, according to the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. The two bulk carriers were the first civilian ships to reach an Odesa port since Russia withdrew from the deal.

Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a statement that the two carriers will be transporting 20,000 tons of wheat to countries in Asia and Africa.

After Russia exited the grain deal, Kyiv sought to reroute shipments through the Danube River and along rail and road links into Europe. However, transport costs associated with the alternative route are far too expensive, and the ports on the Danube can’t handle the volume that seaports can.

The temporary Black Sea corridor, which Kyiv asked the International Maritime Organization to ratify, opened on August 10. According to Ukrainian officials, the corridor will be used primarily to evacuate ships that have been stuck in the ports of Pivdennyi, Chornomorsk, and Odesa since the war began.

Since the temporary corridor opened, five vessels have evacuated from Ukrainian ports, Deputy Prime Minister Kubrakov said.

Officials in Ukraine and Kyiv have warned of possible attacks on civilian vessels by Russian forces. Since exiting the grain deal, Russia has intensified its drone and missile attacks on the Odesa region, primarily targeting port infrastructure and grain silos.

Ukraine’s Air Force Command reported another overnight attack last Sunday, with the main target being the Odesa region. Russia fired ten cruise missiles and attacked with six Iranian-supplied Shahed drones. Six missiles and all of the drones were shot down, while the remaining cruise missiles struck an agricultural facility in Odesa.

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