Ukraine releases first ship on its humanitarian corridor

Ukraine releases first ship on its humanitarian corridor

Ukraine has announced that a containership has left the Port of Odessa through the country’s newly introduced “humanitarian corridor”. 

Ukraine has sought alternative routes to circumvent Russian territories around the Black Sea since the war’s outbreak for the secure deployment of approximately 60 commercial ships trapped in Ukrainian ports.  

The new corridor is thus aimed to provide safe passage for merchant ships across the Black Sea to and from its ports which are blockaded by Russia. 

“A first vessel used the temporary corridor for merchant ships to/from the ports of Big Odessa,” stated Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister. 

The containership to traverse the humanitarian corridor was the Hong Kong-flagged Joseph Schulte, and it had been docked at the port since the day before breakout of war with Russia, 23 February 2022, reported Reuters. 

According to Kubrakov, the boxship was carrying over 30,000 metric tonnes of cargo in 2,114 containers. 

READ: UN urges Russia to rejoin Black Sea grain deal 

The Ukrainian navy conveyed in a statement that the suggested routes had already been formally presented by Ukraine to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 

These routes would predominantly serve “civilian ships which have been in the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odessa, and Pivdenny since the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia on February 24, 2022,” read the navy’s statement. 

The Ukrainian Navy spokesperson, Oleh Chalyk, added: “The corridor will be very transparent, we will put cameras on the ships and there will be a broadcast to show that this is purely a humanitarian mission and has no military purpose.” 

READ: Russia sanctions weigh on HHLA H1 performance 

This new corridor, however, further posits a new test of Russia’s de facto blockade since Putin withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal in July. Putin’s government has since stated its intention to regard any ship nearing Ukrainian ports as potential military vessels. 

While Russia has not indicated any degree of compliance to the corridor, shipping and insurance sources have expressed concerns about the risks of a merchant vessel being perceived as a military target, reported Reuters. 

“The security guarantees given to shipping by both sides under the BSGI are no longer in effect which means that the Ukrainian Black Sea ports are effectively blockaded and out of use for commercial vessels,” noted Gard, a Norwegian ship insurer, in a recent advisory. 

The advisory further stated that Ukrainian seaports in the northwestern region were no longer considered “secure” ports as per contractual terms. 

Despite such concerns, Ukrainian Navy spokesman, Dmytro Pletenchuk, stated: “Of course, everything will take place under the supervision of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. We are doing everything we can to ensure security.” 

Earlier this month, Russian drones that struck Ukraine’s main inland port and grain silo across the river Danube in the southern Odesa region, sparked increases in global food prices

More recently, ports in the Black Sea have been grappling with backlogs as a Russian warship fired warning shots at a cargo vessel, congesting shipping lanes.

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