A new test of Russia’s de facto blockade after Moscow abandoned a deal last month to allow Kyiv to export grain from its sea ports, Ukraine stated it will build a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to release cargo ships stuck in its ports since the outbreak of war.
The corridor, which was announced on Thursday, would initially only be applicable to ships like container ships that have been impounded at Ukrainian ports since the Russian invasion in February 2022 and were not covered by the agreement that opened the ports to grain supplies the previous year.
However, given that Russia has abandoned the grain agreement and is now attempting to reimpose its de facto blockade, it could be a significant test of Ukraine’s capacity to restore sea channels. Concerns about safety were highlighted by shipping and insurance sources.
local newspaper According to The Kyiv Independent, the Ukrainian navy has issued a warning that sea mines and military threats from Russia still exist along all maritime lanes.
The news source stated on Thursday that “Only vessels whose owners or captains officially confirm their readiness to sail under such conditions will be allowed to pass through.”
The Ukrainian military claimed in a statement that Ukraine has already directly suggested the corridor’s routes to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The routes would “primarily be used for civilian ships which have been in the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Pivdennyi since the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia on February 24, 2022”
The navy issued the statement, noting that threats from mines and the military threat from Russia persisted. “Vessels whose owners/captains officially confirm that they are ready to sail in the current conditions will be allowed to pass through the routes,” the navy stated.
The hallway will be extremely transparent. According to Oleh Chalyk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian navy, “We will install cameras on the ships and there will be a broadcast to prove that this is solely a humanitarian mission and has no military objective.
Requests for comments from Moscow received no reaction right away.
Ukrainian-speaking shipping and insurance sources claimed they were unaware of the new corridor and had doubts about its sustainability. They claimed that it was improbable that most ships would consent to set sail at this time.
Another significant issue is the potential for several seafarer fatalities [in the event that a ship is attacked], according to a source in the shipping sector.
Since Russia’s invasion, over 60 commercial ships have been stranded in Ukrainian ports, their destinies unresolved by the agreement that permitted grain exports to restart in July of last year.
Many of the ship’s crew members have been evacuated, leaving Ukrainian staff that was hired locally to help maintain the ships.
Russia has stated that it will treat any ships that approach Ukrainian ports as possible armed vessels and their flag countries as combatants on the Ukrainian side after quitting the grain deal.
Similar threats have been made by Kiev in response to ships entering Russian or Russian-controlled Ukrainian ports.
The United Nations has stated that Russia’s move to back out of the agreement runs the risk of escalating the world food crisis, which would impact impoverished nations the most and keep grain from one of the biggest exporters off the market.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA, REUTERS