Two dry bulk vessels under Turkish ownership arrived in Ukraine on September 16, in defiance of Russia's grain shipping ban following the conclusion of Black Sea agreements facilitated by the United Nations and Turkey. These vessels marked the first large arrivals at the Chornomorsk port, located southwest of Odesa, since the ban.
Earlier on the same day, Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister, confirmed that the bulk carriers, Resilient Africa and Aroyat, were prepared to utilize the route to Chornomorsk to load nearly 20,000 tons of wheat destined for Africa and Asia. These vessels are registered in Palau and have crew members from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Ukraine.
Kubrakov also hinted at the possibility of other inbound ships utilizing the same route along the western Black Sea coastline, passing through Bulgarian and Romanian waters, due to the increasing demand for agricultural products. He mentioned that they were "considering" this route for shipping Ukraine's agricultural exports to Asia and Africa.
On September 16, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority confirmed the arrival of both vessels at the port, which was further substantiated by their AIS signals. Ukraine's Agricultural Ministry also corroborated the arrival through social media, stating that the grain would be loaded and dispatched to Egypt and Israel.
The Aroyat, an 18,315 deadweight tonnage (dwt) bulker built in 1997, departed from the Turkish seaport of Diliskelesi, located east of Istanbul, en route to Ukraine. It is managed by a Turkish company.
The Resilient Africa, a smaller vessel with a deadweight tonnage of 3,267 dwt, is also registered in Palau and managed by a Turkish company. It is indicated to have departed from the Romanian seaport of Constanta, which is now supporting Ukraine's grain shipments after the expiration of the export agreement.
UN officials informed Reuters that their organization was not involved in these recent shipments, but they expressed support for the resumption of grain shipments and welcomed efforts to revive them. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an had recently attempted, unsuccessfully, to persuade Vladimir Putin to agree to a new grain deal.
Kubrakov reported on his social media that he had traveled to Constanta for a vital meeting with counterparts from Romania, the United States, Moldova, and the European Commission. They discussed solutions for export logistics development and agreed to establish additional transshipment facilities in Constanta while optimizing the efficiency of the Sulina Canal, connecting Constanta to the Danube. These initiatives aim to expand alternative routes crucial for Ukraine's grain shipments, vital for its foreign trade and economy.
Observers interpret this arrival as Ukraine's latest endeavor to increase grain shipments while testing Russia's determination to halt commercial ships. The UK has recently announced that the Royal Air Force is monitoring ships in the Black Sea to deter Russian interference with merchant shipping. Since Ukraine announced the corridor in mid-August, a total of five ships have used it to depart Black Sea ports. Interfax-Ukraine reported that another ship is about to evacuate using the corridor, but details remain undisclosed.