Ukraine has seen a steady flow of ships transporting grain and metals through its new Black Sea shipping corridor, despite Russian threats. Since the corridor came into effect in September, over 30 ships have called at ports in the Odessa metropolitan area, carrying around a million tons of grain. This indicates that Ukraine is regaining some control over trade from its Black Sea ports, although the risks associated with the route remain unchanged. Shipowners initially had concerns about operating in the area, as Russia threatened to treat all ships heading to Ukraine as potentially armed. However, some ship owners are still willing to take the risk and have even sent larger and more valuable ships to Ukraine.
The timing of this new shipping route is crucial for Ukrainian farmers, who are in the middle of a harvest that has been larger than expected, despite the ongoing conflict in the region. Grain storage shortages could occur in the coming weeks if supplies do not increase. The ships using the new route are taking precautions by sailing closer to the coast of NATO members Bulgaria and Romania. Some ships have also turned off their location signals when reaching Black Sea ports. This temporary route only allows for the transport of grain, food, and fertilizers, unlike the original UN corridor.
Overall, the establishment of this new shipping corridor signifies Ukraine’s determination to assert control over its trade from the Black Sea ports. However, the risks involved in using this route remain high, as tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue to escalate. The success of this alternative corridor will depend on its ability to increase Ukraine’s exports and whether ship owners are willing to navigate the potentially dangerous waters.