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Ukraine To Open Humanitarian Corridor For Black Sea Ports

Ukraine announced that it was going to open a "humanitarian corridor" for ships stuck in Black Sea ports since the Russian invasion, to test the de-facto Russian blockade

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On Thursday, Ukraine announced it would open a new "humanitarian corridor" for container ships stuck in its Black Sea ports since the Russian invasion last year. This move is aimed to be a new test of the de-facto Russian blockade after Moscow abandoned a deal to allow Kyiv to export grain from its seaports. The deal only covers vessels that have been stuck since the invasion and not any of the ports from where Kyiv exports its grain.

However, this corridor comes with considerable risk, and many international shipping companies have come out to express their concerns about Ukraine's ability to carry it out safely. The Ukrainian Navy warned that Russian military threats, alongside sea mines, would continue to remain along all shipping routes. Local news outlet, The Kyiv Independent reported that the Navy also said, “Only vessels whose owners or captains officially confirm their readiness to sail under such conditions will be allowed to pass through,”.

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In its own statement, the Ukrainian Navy said that the new routes had been proposed directly to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and that the route would primarily be used for civilian ships that were stuck in the ports.  “The corridor will be very transparent. We will put cameras on the ships and there will be a broadcast to show that this is purely a humanitarian mission and has no military purpose,” Oleh Chalyk, a Navy spokesman told Reuters.

All the same, the ships will now sail at their own risk, and by the decision of their captains and crews. Shipping and insurance companies said that they were certainly very concerned about the viability of this new corridor, especially given the recent abandonment of the grain shipment deal by Russia. Moscow offered no comment on the new development.

Around 60 ships have been stuck in the ports since last year not covered by the grain shipment agreement. However, since abandoning the grain deal, Moscow said it would treat any ships approaching Ukrainian ports as potential military vessels, and enemy combatants. Ukraine responded that it would do the same for ships approaching Russian ports, or Russian-held Ukrainian ports.

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How this humanitarian corridor will work out now, remains to be seen, with a doubtful cloud hanging over it's fate.

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