First Cargo Ship Leaves Ukraine’s Odesa Port Since Grain Deal End Despite Russian Threats

A merchant vessel has set sail from the port of Odesa, despite rising fear that Russia could target more ships in the Black Sea.

The Hong Kong-flagged ship titled the Joseph Schulte had been stranded in the port since Russia started a full-blown invasion of Ukraine in 2022 (February).

Cargo Ship
Representation Image

Kyiv declared a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea after Russia pulled out of a deal last month that permitted it to transport grain.

However, Moscow has not said if it will respect this corridor.

The vessel departed as Kyiv said Russian air strikes impaired grain storage facilities in Reni, a river port situated on the Danube, approximately 260km southwest of Odesa.

Ukraine’s officials released images that reflected destroyed storage facilities and piles of scattered sunflowers and grain in Reni, on the border of Ukraine with Romania and Moldova.

An industry source informed Reuters that the port was continuing its operations.

Russia hasn’t passed any comments on the latest attack.

Last month, Russia pulled out of a deal guaranteeing a safe passage for exports across the Black Sea and said that any vessel heading for Ukraine’s ports would be considered a military target.

It fired warning shots at a vessel sailing toward Ukraine earlier in the week.

Ukraine is a prominent grain and oilseeds exporters, and the block has contributed to rising food rates worldwide.

Despite these threats, Ukraine declared a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea to permit vessels to depart from its ports, promising transparency to make clear that they were serving no military aim.

The first vessel used the new temporary corridor set up for merchant vessels to and from the ports of Great Odesa, the Deputy PM, Oleksandr Kubrakov, mentioned on a Facebook post.

According to Reuters reports, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the firm that also owns the Joseph Schulte and a China-based bank, confirmed that the vessel was sailing to Istanbul, Turkey.

It was loaded with over 30,000 tons of cargo that included food in about 2,114 containers, Kubrakov said, adding that this corridor would be used for evacuating ships trapped in the Black Sea ports since Russia’s full-blown invasion had begun.

In the meantime, Ukraine’s officials declared the capture of Urozhaine, a small hamlet situated in the eastern Donetsk region, by Russia’s forces.

Urozhaine is liberated — the defenders are entrenched at the outskirts, Hanna Maliar, the Deputy Defence Minister, mentioned on Telegram.

In recent months, Ukraine’s forces have carried out a vast counter-offensive, mainly in the east and the southeast, to reclaim territory from occupying Russia’s forces.

Despite getting billions of dollars of advanced Western military equipment, it has witnessed some modest advances.

Earlier in the week, Ukraine declared that it had recaptured three sq km of territory around the war-ravaged Bakhmut, also in the Donetsk region, even though it is still encountering powerful resistance in the south.

Intense fighting in the east has resulted in many residents needing evacuation.

As she was preparing to leave the frontline town of Kupiansk based in the Kharkiv Region, Vira Vunesku, aged 53, said that she was ill and had to evacuate her grandson.

My condition is serious — I was in a hospital-based in Kharkiv, got home for a little bit, and I have to leave now once again, she informed the AFP news agency.

Separately, Russia has stated that its air defence systems downed three drones overnight close to Moscow, the most recent in a series of attacks that have reportedly targeted Russia’s cities.

References: BBC, The Guardian

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