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Ukraine’s Naval Forces: Ukraine announces temporary routes for commercial vessels

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Credit: The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/FB account
Ukraine’s Naval Forces: Ukraine announces temporary routes for commercial vessels

Ukraine has announced temporary routes for commercial vessels sailing to and from the Black Sea seaports of Ukraine. However, all routes remain at risk due to the Black Sea mining and the military threat from Russia, The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported.

“The routes have been announced in line with the order of the navigation report of Ukraine’s Navy, No.6, as of 8 August 2023,” the Ukrainian Navy said.

“Ukraine had previously proposed these routes in an appeal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Council of the International Maritime Organization recognized Ukraine’s right to free trade navigation, guaranteed by international maritime law,” Ukraine’s Naval Forces wrote.

Maritime security in the Black Sea is an international problem

The routes will primarily be used for civilian ships which have been in the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Pivdennyi since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022

According to Ukraine’s Naval Forces, the last ship with Ukrainian products left the port of Odesa on 16 July. “After Russia’s withdrawal from the Grain Agreement, the aggressor state attacked the port grain infrastructure to cut off access to world markets for Ukrainian food. World leaders, including those from Africa, called on Russia to stop blackmailing Ukraine with food and not to interfere with Ukrainian agricultural exports.”

  • On 17 July 2023, the Russian Federation withdrew from the Black Sea grain initiative, an UN-brokered agreement to unblock Ukraine’s ports and export its grain, and stated that it would not guarantee that it will not attack civilian vessels after that date. The Ukrainian defense ministry mirrored Russia’s threats to ships at sea.
  • After that, Russia launched massive missile attacks on Odesa and the region with missiles and drones, destroying ports, granaries, residential buildings, and other facilities.
  • NATO has condemned the Russian attacks but has thus far only vowed to increase surveillance. Meanwhile, Ukraine has changed the course of its grain corridor so that it stays within Romanian waters. Reportedly, the US declined Ukrainian requests to escort commercial vessels in the waters of NATO countries to ensure that the grain corridor keeps functioning.
  • The Institute for Study of War has observed that Russia seems intent on enforcing a de-facto naval blockade of the Black Sea by intimidating civilian vessels in it. Particularly, a Russian warship told a ship that sailing to Ukraine could get it treated as a military target, according to an intercept shared by Ukrainian officials on 28 July.
  • In it, a Russian ship used an open channel to contact a ship passing near one of the Ukrainian ports. The Russian ship asked about the ship’s affiliation, what cargo it was carrying, and whether there were any weapons on board. Then, it stated that any transportation to Ukraine is considered by the Russian Federation as potential transportation of military cargo and told that the country under whose flag the ship is flying will be considered by Russia to be involved in the war.

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