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Two commercial ships have docked at a Ukrainian port as Kiev steps up efforts to unilaterally break Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea coast.
Two arriving ships docked in Chernomorsk hours before Russia launched its latest wave of overnight missile and drone attacks on Ukraine. Agricultural infrastructure in the southern region of Odessa is again being targeted.
Russia also reported Ukrainian drone strikes on Sunday night in Crimea, Moscow and other areas.
“The first civilian ships used the temporary corridor in the direction of Ukrainian ports… We are loading almost 20,000 tons for African and Asian countries,” said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. wheat. “
The Palau-flagged bulk carriers, named Resilient Africa and Aroyat, were the first to arrive at Ukrainian ports since Russia withdrew from a U.N.-brokered deal in July that had allowed Ukraine to export more than 33 million tons of grains. Boat.
This summer, Kiev announced the creation of a corridor along the Black Sea coast of its southern neighbors and NATO members Romania and Bulgaria to receive ships stranded in Ukrainian ports after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Three ships carrying grain and two carrying metallurgical products have left Ukrainian ports since the Kyiv military opened the corridor, as Russia continues to resist international pressure to rejoin a grain export deal.
Ukraine currently exports most of its grain to EU countries overland by truck and rail, but these routes increase costs and harm Kyiv’s competitiveness. It also continues to ship grain from ports on the Danube River, which are regularly attacked by missiles from Russian forces.
Ukraine, equipped with NATO-grade air defense systems and long-range missiles supplied by its Western allies, is increasingly targeting Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea, the peninsula it illegally annexed in 2014. Last week, Ukraine destroyed a Russian naval ship and devastated the Crimean peninsula. Damaged a submarine docked at Sevastopol, the peninsula’s largest port, for repairs.
Kyiv officials believe preventing Russia from using the peninsula as a military staging ground is key to breaking the Black Sea blockade and supporting a military counteroffensive. Russia still occupies about 18% of Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions.
Despite considerable risks to ships using Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, Kyiv claims it can protect the shipping corridor by disrupting Russia’s ability to regulate the northwest corner of the Black Sea.
The region’s governor, Oleg Kiper, said Sunday’s Russian attack damaged land and grain storage facilities in Berezivka, 90 kilometers north of the provincial capital Odessa.
The attacks also hit targets in the northeastern city of Kharkiv and the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oreshuk posted a video on Telegram showing Ukrainian air defenses intercepting an incoming missile near Odessa early Sunday, with the explosion resembling a fireworks display.
“Our favorite city can sleep peacefully!” he wrote.