A top government official announced on Tuesday that a cargo ship loaded with grain has departed from Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Chornomorsk. This marks the vessel’s first departure since a grain agreement fell through, serving as a test of Ukraine’s capacity to reopen its seaports for grain exports.
“The vessel RESILIENT AFRICA, carrying 3,000 tons of wheat, has left the port of Chornomorsk and is heading toward the Bosphorus,” Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook.
“This is the first of two vessels that entered Chornomorsk last week through a temporary corridor for civilian vessels established by the Ukrainian Navy.”
Kubrakov posted a photo of the ship on the open sea.
Ukraine last month announced a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to release ships trapped in its ports since Russia invaded the country in February 2022 and to circumvent a de facto blockade after Russia abandoned a deal to let Kyiv export grain.
The bulk carriers Resilient Africa and Aroyat arrived in Ukraine on Saturday and were due to depart after loading almost 20,000 metric tons of wheat for Africa and Asia.
Kubrakov said the second ship, Aroyat, is still moored in Chornomorsk and is being loaded with wheat for Egypt.
The loading is a test of Ukraine’s ability to reopen shipping lanes at a time when Russia is trying to re-impose its de facto blockade.
Moscow has launched frequent drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian grain export infrastructure.
Odesa’s three seaports, including Chornomorsk, shipped tens of millions of tons of grain during Russia’s invasion under a UN-brokered deal which collapsed when Moscow withdrew.
Five of several vessels that had been stuck in Odesa have so far left the port, using the temporary corridor which hugs the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria.
The Black Sea grain deal was brokered by the UN and Turkiye in July 2022 to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.