- Written by Katherine Armstrong
- BBC News
Ukrainian port authorities said that two cargo ships have arrived at a Ukrainian port after traveling through the Black Sea using a new route.
The ship arrived in Chornomorsk on Saturday and was scheduled to load 20,000 tons of wheat bound for global markets.
Officials said this was the first time that civilian ships had arrived at a Ukrainian port since the collapse of an agreement with Russia guaranteeing the safety of ships.
Until now, the corridor was only used by ships departing from Ukraine.
Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said that the two ships – Resilient Africa and Arwiat – sailed flying the flag of the oceanic island nation of Palau, and that their crew consisted of people from Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Egypt.
The ships will deliver wheat to Egypt and Israel, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture.
Their arrival comes after Russia abandoned a UN-backed deal that facilitated Ukrainian grain exports from Chornomorsk and two other Black Sea ports in July.
Moscow said parts of the agreement allowing the export of its food and fertilizers had not been adhered to and complained that Western sanctions were restricting its agricultural exports.
Since then, Russia has threatened to treat civilian ships sailing to Ukraine as potential military targets.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest suppliers of crops such as sunflower oil, barley, corn and wheat.
When Russia invaded the country in February 2022, its naval forces blockaded the country’s ports on the Black Sea and seized 20 million tons of grain that was intended for export.
This has led to global food prices rising and threatened to create shortages in countries in the Middle East and Africa, which import large quantities of food from Ukraine.
Some of these countries, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan and Ethiopia, remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
It has repeatedly attacked the ports of Izmail and Reny, where most Ukrainian grain exports have been departing since July, in an attempt to disrupt operations.
Kiev accused Russia of a “cynical” attempt to hurt its grain exports and undermine global food security.
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