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Ukraine changes grain corridor route

Ships grain corridor Black Sea
Ships await grain loading in Black Sea ports in July 2023. Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure
Ukraine changes grain corridor route

Ukraine sets up a temporary shipping route to maintain grain shipments after Russia quit the Black Sea grain agreement, Reuters reported.

On the night of 19 July, the Russian army launched the most massive-yet attack on Odesa. The grain infrastructure of international and Ukrainian traders and carriers Kernel, Viterra, and CMA CGM Group was damaged in the port cities of Odesa and Chornomorsk. Particularly, 60,000 tons of grain waiting for shipping to China were destroyed. It happened two days after Russia withdrew from the “grain deal,” a UN-brokered arrangement allowing to export Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports.

Ukraine In its official letter dated 18 July submitted to UN shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), announces its decision to establish on a temporary basis a recommended maritime route, according to screenshots shared by media and Twitter users.

New grain corridor rout. Credit: mercoglianos/Twitter

“Its goal is to facilitate the unblocking of international shipping in the north-western part of the Black Sea,” Vasyl Shkurakov, Ukraine’s acting minister for communities, territories and infrastructure development, said in the letter.

The idea of escorting ships via the territorial waters of NATO nations (instead of via international waters in the black sea) was discussed in the Pentagon but rejected on 17 July, gCaptain reported, citing a Navy source.

Retired Rear Admiral and White House Spokesman John Kirby, reiterated the rejection during a press briefing in Washington. “You are suggesting that we simply try to conduct a blockade – an effective military blockade in the Black Sea. No, this is not an option that is being actively considered, that we are actively pursuing,” Kirby said according to gCapitan.

However, Ukraine did not request to prevent the transit of ships. In a letter to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Ukraine asked for grain ships to be rerouted to coastal NATO waters protected by NATO conventions.

On 20 July, the Russian Ministry of Defense made a statement, threatening all ships heading to Ukraine. “All ships sailing in the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports will be considered as potential carriers of military cargo,” the statement said.

Interestingly, the US has previously shown a willingness to defend foreign-flagged ships in the Middle East. Recently, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the deployment of fighter jets to the region in response to Iranian activities in the Strait of Hormuz.

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