Two More Ships Depart Ukraine Without Russian Approval

Kubrakov bulker

Published Sep 3, 2023 6:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two more vessels have managed to navigate their way out of Ukraine unharmed using Kyiv's newly-declared shipping corridor, defying Russian threats to maritime commerce in the northwestern Black Sea. 

The bulker Anna-Theresa departed the port of Yuzhny on Friday carrying a load of 56,000 tonnes of pig iron, according to Ukrainian minister of infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov. Meanwhile, the bulker Ocean Courtesy departed the same port with 170,000 tonnes of iron ore concentrate. 

Ocean Courtesy made straight for Constanta, Romania, where she remained anchored on Monday. Anna-Theresa (ex name Filia Glory) arrived in Istanbul Saturday and is anchored in the Sea of Marmara. 

These transits bring the number of ships to successfully use Ukraine's government-sponsored safe shipping regime to four. In an earlier era, these voyages would be unremarkable, but this year the vessels are running a de facto Russian blockade with risks like drifting sea mines and unwanted high-seas boardings. Ukraine's government has provided the reinsurance to ensure cover for them, as Western reinsurers have limited appetite for this level of risk. 

They are also carrying some of the first non-agricultural exports out of Ukraine's Black Sea ports since the war began. Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan brokered a deal in which Russia agreed not to attack or threaten Ukrainian grain shipments, so long as the vessels involved were approved and inspected for weapons. The deal was strictly limited to food shipments, but even this restricted arrangement broke down in July when Russia unilaterally withdrew; Erdogan has been working with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other world leaders to encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin  to reopen the route. 

On Monday, Putin is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the status of Ukrainian grain exports. Erdogan has expressed confidence that a diplomatic breakthrough can be reached.