KYIV, Ukraine, Sept 22, 2023 (AFP) – A ship carrying wheat has left a Ukrainian port and was heading to Egypt, the second such trip since Russia reimposed its Black Sea blockade in July, a minister said Friday.
The Palau-flagged Aroyat vessel left Chornomorsk after being loaded with 17,600 tonnes of grain, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on social media.
Ukraine is testing a new sea route that avoids international waters and follows those controlled by NATO members Bulgaria and Romania following Russia’s withdrawal from a UN-backed grain export deal.
A first ship carrying 3,000 tonnes of wheat left the same port earlier this week.
Kubrakov said the destination for the first ship, the Resilient Africa, was Asia.
Kyiv had earlier successfully sent several cargo ships along the new route, without transporting Ukrainian grain.
Russia has not hit the new pathway but it has stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea port infrastructure after abandoning the grain deal.
Ukrainian forces in turn have been aiming to undermine Moscow’s military control over the Black Sea, including with attacks on Russian-annexed Crimea.
Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, has been targeted by increasingly frequent drone and missile attacks, with Kyiv claiming to have damaged several Russian warships.
Civilian maritime traffic was stopped on Friday in Sevastopol, Russian-installed authorities said, without providing details.
But Russia’s defence ministry announced Friday that it had shot down one guided missile and two drones that had targeted the peninsula.