The Russian Defense Ministry said it had created the conditions for two maritime humanitarian corridors to allow safe movement of ships in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, according to a statement posted on Telegram on Monday. The statement comes as the international community condemns Russia’s blockade of major ports for months.
“The Russian Federation is taking the full range of measures to ensure the safety of civilian navigation in the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov,” the Russian ministry said in the statement. “There remains a hazard to navigation and damage to port infrastructure from the drift of Ukrainian mines pulled from anchors along the coast of the Black Sea states.”
A bit of context: World leaders have condemned a months-long blockade by Russian forces of key ports in Ukraine – including Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Odessa on the Black Sea – which has left more than 20 million tonnes of grain stranded inside the country. The Ukrainian Navy said on Monday that about 30 Russian ships and submarines were continuing the blockade of civilian shipping in the Black Sea.
According to the Russian statement, the maritime humanitarian corridor in the Sea of Azov will operate around the clock to allow ships to leave the port of Mariupol,
Meanwhile, in the Black Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry said a maritime humanitarian corridor will operate during working hours “to leave the ports of Kherson, Mykolaiv, Chornomorsk, Ochakiv, Odessa and Yuzhne in a south-westerly direction from the territorial sea of Ukraine.”
The Russian ministry also accused the Ukrainian authorities of not taking steps to solve the problem of the stranded ships.
On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reaffirmed that Ukraine must clear coastal waters for grain ships to pass and assured that Russia would facilitate their passage and not use cleared sea lanes to attack. Ukraine.
Ukraine has also accused the Russians of placing mines in the Black Sea.
CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed to this post.