Second vessel departs from Odessa via temporary Black Sea corridor

Hong Kong-flagged container ship Joseph Schulte leaves the sea port of Odesa. Photo Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov via Facebook/Handout via REUTERS
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A ship carrying steel products from Ukraine’s port of Odessa to Africa has left through a makeshift corridor in the Black Sea. This is the second ship to use the corridor since Russia withdrew from a UN-brokered deal that allowed safe grain exports. The Liberian-flagged ship PRIMUS had been in port since February 2022, before the Russian invasion, and was transporting steel products. Odessa’s three seaports had shipped millions of tons of grain under a year-long contract brokered by the UN. However, Russia’s withdrawal from the deal led to threats of treating all ships as potential military targets. In response, Ukraine established a “humanitarian corridor” along the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria. A container ship from Hong Kong that had been stuck in Odessa’s port was able to navigate this route without incident.

This development highlights the challenges faced by Ukraine in maintaining its trade routes amidst the conflict with Russia. Russia’s withdrawal from the UN-brokered deal disrupted grain exports, prompting Ukraine to find alternative routes to ensure the safe transportation of goods. The use of a makeshift corridor in the Black Sea has allowed ships, including the PRIMUS, to leave Odessa without being targeted. However, the situation remains precarious as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue. The successful navigation of the route by the container ship from Hong Kong provides some hope that trade can still flow through alternative channels. Nevertheless, the uncertainty and potential risks associated with the conflict pose significant obstacles for Ukraine’s trade and economy.

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