The first vessel has left the Ukrainian port of Odesa since the end of the Black Sea Grain Initiative last month, Minister for Infrastructure in Ukraine, Oleksandr Kubrakov has said.

Container ship Joseph Schulte under the Hong Kong flag left the port today (Wednesday, August 16), moving along a “temporary corridor” established for civilian vessels to and from Black Sea ports.

Carrying more than 30,000t of cargo, including food products, the container ship, which had been in the port of Odesa since February 23, 2022 – one day before the invasion – is heading for the Bosporus.

The vessel last sailed under the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 16 from the port of Odesa, before the termination of the initiative following Russia’s withdrawal.

Black Sea

The corridor will be primarily used to evacuate ships that were in Ukrainian ports at the time of the invasion, the minister said. However, Russia has not indicated whether it would respect the corridor.

Earlier this week, he said that, to “avoid provocations”, vessels should sails as close as possible to the coast of the northwestern part of the Black Sea, through the territorial waters of Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria.

Russian attacks

After the termination of the grain deal, Russia carried out “systematic air attacks on port infrastructure to stop Ukrainian agricultural export”, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said.

“At the same time, there are information speculations and attempts of provocations in the Black Sea to influence the movement of ships to Ukrainian ports,” the ministry added.

The grain infrastructure in Odesa was struck by Russian drones last night, the Ministry of Defense in Ukraine said. Several grain facilities have been subject to attacks since the end of the grain deal.

Russian drones struck the grain infrastructure in Odesa. Source: Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, Twitter

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Agri Council (UAC) said that the only option to export agricultural products from Ukraine is through the Danube ports, however, they are “not safe for ships”.

UAC chair Andrii Dykun said the cost paid by farmers for logistics by land is too high, and appealed to the European Commission to compensate farmers for transport costs to European ports.

The council previously called for the establishment of “green corridors” to simplify travel to the ports of the Baltic States, Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia.