First two cargo ships in Ukrainian port after Russia’s exit from the agreement

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Two cargo ships arrived at one of Ukraine’s ports over the weekend, using a temporary Black Sea corridor established by Kiev following Russia’s withdrawal from a war deal aimed at guarantee the security of grain exports from the ports of the invaded country.

Two Palau-flagged bulk carriers, the Aroyat and the Resilient Africa, docked at the Chornomorsk seaport in the southern Odessa region on Saturday, according to an online statement from the Ukrainian Port Authority. These ships are the first civilian cargo ships to reach one of Odessa’s ports since Russia withdrew from the grain deal.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said in an online statement on Saturday that the two ships would deliver some 20,000 tonnes of wheat to countries in Africa and Asia.

For months, Ukraine, whose economy relies heavily on agriculture, has been able to safely export its grain from Black Sea ports thanks to a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to ensure security expeditions. But Russia withdrew from the deal on July 17, with Kremlin officials arguing that their demands to facilitate Russian shipments of food and fertilizer had not been met.

After the withdrawal, the Russian Defense Ministry said it would consider all ships in the Black Sea heading to Ukrainian ports to be military targets.

Since then, kyiv has sought to reroute transportation via the Danube and road and rail links to Europe. But transportation costs in this way are much higher. Some European countries have balked at the resulting local grain prices, and Danube ports cannot handle the same volume as seaports.

The interim corridor in the Black Sea, which Kiev has asked the International Maritime Organization to ratify, was opened on August 10 as U.S. and Ukrainian officials warned of possible Russian attacks on civilian ships. Sea mines also make travel risky and ship insurance costs are likely to be high for operators.

Ukrainian officials said the corridor would be used mainly to evacuate ships stuck in the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odessa and Pivdennyi since the start of the war. Kubrakov said on Saturday that five ships had since used the corridor to leave Ukrainian ports.

After breaking the grain deal, Russia intensified its attacks on the southern Odessa region, targeting its port infrastructure and grain silos with missiles and drones.

On Sunday, the Ukrainian Air Force command reported another attack overnight, with the Odessa region as the main target. Russian forces fired 10 cruise missiles and six Iranian-made Shahed drones, the statement said. All drones and six missiles were shot down, while the rest hit an agricultural facility in the Odessa region.

In other developments:

— The Ukrainian army announced on Sunday that it had recaptured the village of Klishchiivka from Russian troops after months of fierce fighting. The village lies south of the Russian-controlled town of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, and its recapture comes days after Ukrainian forces announced they had liberated the nearby village of Andriivka. There was no immediate comment from Russian officials on the reconquest.

The conquest of Klischiivka signifies an important tactical victory for Ukrainian forces. The village’s commanding heights provide views of the Russian-occupied town of Bakhmut and open new opportunities for Ukrainian forces to encircle the town. It would also potentially allow Ukrainians to have a better view of Russian logistics lines.

— Russian authorities announced Sunday that Ukrainian drones had targeted the annexed Crimean peninsula and several Russian regions overnight and in the morning. Two drones were shot down overnight in the Moscow region surrounding the Russian capital, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. A third drone was intercepted above the Voronezh region, bordering Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Another incident hit a fuel tank in the neighboring Orel region, Orel Governor Andrei Klychkov said, sparking a fire that was quickly extinguished. A drone also fell on a logistics facility in the Tula region, south of Moscow, local authorities said. In annexed Crimea, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it had shot down six Ukrainian drones in the early hours of Sunday. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the attacks,


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