Odesa, Ukraine (PortSEurope) October 14, 2023 – Despite the continuing Russian drone and missile attacks on ports and grain export infrastructure in the Ukrainian Odesa region, three more large cargo ships are waiting to enter its harbours (12:00 CET October 14), after three sailed to the ports on October 13, and three entered the ports on October 12 according to the MarineTraffic website, which tracks global shipping using satellite data.
The archaic expression “three times three” is an appropriate way to say “three cheers” for the extraordinary success of the humanitarian corridor announced by Ukraine on August 8, which replaced the UN and Turkey-sponsored safe corridor previously agreed with Russia. Ukrainian sources claim that 15 more cargo vessels are prepared to sail to Ukrainian ports. “Thrice” is the new way to say three slaps in the face of the Russian navy.
The Liberia-flagged bulk carriers Jolanda (180,000 DWT), Kmax Emperor (92,000 DWT), and Gloria G (74,400 DWT) joined the list of more than 40 ships that have completed journeys to and from the three major Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea – Odesa (Odessa), Chornomorsk (Chernomorsk), Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) – without incident since August 16, defying Russia’s threats to attack vessels in the area.
According to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, since August 16, 21 cargo ships sailed out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and 25 cargo vessels entered the ports.
Russia has lost control over the Black Sea
The ships’ safe passage shows that Russia does not control anymore navigation in the Black Sea. It also confirms the success of Ukraine’s own trade route. The vessels hug the western Black Sea coast near NATO members Romania and Bulgaria. They move with their transponders switched on, showing at all times their location. They were not hiding their route and their final destination.
Russia’s leverage over Ukraine’s exports of grain via the Black Sea is eroding as more ships are able to enter and leave Ukrainian ports. This is in complete disregard to the Russian navy’s attempted harbour blockade and threats to sink civilian vessels. Kyiv (Kiev) forces’ numerous deadly attacks against the Russian navy and its headquarters have added to Moscow’s headaches.
Russia has carried out regular missile and drone strikes on port infrastructure in recent weeks, making it difficult for major grain producer Ukraine to export its products. Moscow quit a deal on July 17 that had enabled Black Sea grain shipments and helped combat a global food crisis.
In a sign that the new Ukrainian strategy is gaining momentum. Insurance broker Miller said that it is offering “full war risks insurance coverage” for Ukraine’s Black Sea grain ships.
Russia is trying to “hide” its ships to protect them from being sunk by Ukraine
Russian Black Sea Fleet had withdrawn the bulk of its ships from its main base in Sevastopol, in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which Russia occupied in 2014, to its base in Novorossiysk, a port on the Russian mainland. Despite that, two more Russian navy ships were damaged in the past two days.
Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, occupied by Russia since 1993, claims that it has signed a deal with Moscow to establish a permanent naval base in its small Ochamchira Black Sea port. That would re-establish a Soviet-era base, and would allow the Russian navy to operate from the furthest harbour from Ukrainian territory possible. Russia opened a coastguard station in Ochamchira in 2017.
Britain says it has intelligence that Russia is trying to target civilian cargo ships carrying grain in the Black Sea by laying sea mines and planning to blame any attacks on Ukraine. The U.K. did not provide evidence for the allegation, which comes as Ukraine appears to be gaining momentum in the “Battle for the Black Sea”, which is Kyiv’s main export corridor and a launchpad for Russian attacks against Ukrainian territory.
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