The image provided by the Press Office of Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry shows the container ship Joseph Schulte, flying a Hong Kong flag, departing from the port of Odesa. It is navigating through a temporary corridor created for merchant vessels from Ukraine's Black Sea ports in Odesa, Ukraine, on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. The ship, which has been docked at the port of Odesa since last February due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is carrying over 30,000 tons of cargo, including food products. The departure was facilitated by an agreement between Ukraine and the International Maritime Organisation. (Image: ASSOCIATED PRESS, courtesy of Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry Press Office)
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Maritime officials reported on Saturday that two cargo vessels have departed from Ukraine, despite threats from Russia, and are currently in the Black Sea.
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The Anna-Theresa, a bulk carrier flying a Liberian flag and carrying 56,000 tons of pig iron, left the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny on Friday. It is now nearing Bulgarian territorial waters, according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
Another vessel, the Ocean Courtesy, which sails under a Marshall Islands flag, also departed from the same port on Friday. It is carrying 172,000 tons of iron ore concentrate. The ship reached the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta just before midday on Saturday, as per the global ship tracking website MarineTraffic. However, the website does not specify whether the vessel will continue its journey from the Romanian port.
Kubrakov stated on the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, that both vessels navigated through a temporary corridor for civilian ships. This corridor, which leads from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to the Bosporus, follows the western shores of the Black Sea. It avoids international waters, instead traversing those controlled by NATO members Romania and Bulgaria.
On Saturday, officials at the Bulgarian port of Varna did not confirm whether the Anna-Theresa will dock at the port or continue towards the Bosporus Strait.
These ships are the third and fourth vessels to use the temporary corridor, which was set up by the Ukrainian government after Russia suspended a wartime agreement. This agreement was intended to ensure the safe export of grain from Ukraine. The vessels had been moored at Ukrainian Black Sea ports since before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its neighboring country.
Their departure coincides with the formal announcement of a meeting scheduled for Monday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The high-level discussions will take place in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, just over six weeks after Moscow terminated an agreement. This agreement, mediated by Ankara and the U.N., had allowed Ukrainian grain to be safely transported to global markets despite the ongoing 18-month war.