Four more ships carrying agricultural cargo held up by the war in Ukraine were given clearance to leave the country’s Black Sea coast on Sunday, as analysts warned that Russia was moving troops and equipment towards ports to repel a Ukrainian counter-offensive .
The body, which oversees an international agreement that aims to move about 20 million tons of grain out of Ukraine and feed millions of impoverished people starving in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, said the loaded ships were to go to Chornomorsk and Odessa leave on Monday.
Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations signed agreements last month to create a sea canal that would allow cargo ships to sail safely out of ports that the Russian military had blocked and through waters that the Ukrainian military had mined . Implementation of the agreement, which will last four months, has progressed slowly since the first ship embarked last Monday.
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In the last four months of the war, Russia has focused on seizing the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have controlled some areas as self-proclaimed republics for eight years. Russian forces have been making gradual advances in the region bordering Russia, while launching rocket and rocket attacks to limit the movements of Ukrainian fighters elsewhere.
Last day, five civilians were killed in Russian and separatist fire on towns in Donetsk region, the part of Donbass still under Ukrainian control, regional governor Serhiy Haidai reported. He and Ukrainian government officials have repeatedly urged civilians to evacuate the province.
In a weekend analysis, the British Ministry of Defense said the Russian invasion, which began on February 24, “is about to enter a new phase” in which the shift in combat would shift west and south to a front line some 350 kilometers long. which extends from near the city of Zaporizhia to Russian-occupied Cherson.
Kherson, located on the Dnieper near its mouth in the Black Sea, came under Russian control early in the war and Ukrainian officials have vowed to retake it. Kherson is 227 kilometers from Odessa, which is home to Ukraine’s largest port, so the escalating conflict there could have implications for the international grain deal.
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Even closer to Odessa is the city of Mykolaiv, a major shipbuilding center that comes under daily shelling from Russian forces. Mykolaiv Region Governor Vitaliy Kim said an industrial plant on the outskirts of the region’s capital came under fire early Sunday.
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On Saturday, Russian forces launched airstrikes, firing artillery and distributing other weapons as part of attempts to defend their positions in occupied territories, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank.
Citing local Ukrainian officials, the institute said the Russians “continue to collect large amounts of military equipment” in a town across the Dnieper from Kherson. Preparations appeared designed to defend logistical routes into the city and establish defensive positions on the left bank of the river, the think tank said.
Ukrainian officials were initially skeptical about a grain export deal, citing suspicion that Moscow would try to exploit shipping activity to ship bulk troops off the coast or send long-range missiles out of the Black Sea, as it did several times during the war. The agreements, approved last month, require ships to leave Ukraine under military escort and undergo inspections.
Three more grain ships are leaving Ukrainian ports under a UN deal
Under the agreements, ships leaving Ukraine will be inspected by teams composed of officials from the three countries and the UN to ensure they are only carrying grain, fertilizer or food and no other goods. Incoming ships are screened to ensure they are not carrying weapons.
The Joint Coordination Center responsible for managing the deal said three cargo ships that departed on Friday are expected to transit Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait on Sunday following inspections. The Panama-flagged Navi Star, carrying 33,000 tonnes of grain to Ireland, has completed its inspection and is preparing to depart.
The Turkish-flagged Polarnet, bound for Turkey, and the Maltese-flagged Rojen, bound for the UK, awaited inspection. The ships, which were carrying over 25,000 tons of corn, were waiting to be inspected.
The Joint Coordination Center said three of the airlines allowed out of Ukraine on Monday — Glory, Star Helena and Riva Wind, all flying the Marshall Islands flag — combined transported more than 171,000 tons of corn. The Glory is destined for Istanbul, the Star Helena for Nantong in China and the Riva Wind for the Turkish Mediterranean port of Iskenderun.
The fourth vessel cleared for departure, the Liberian-flagged tanker Mustafa Necati, is carrying more than 6,600 tonnes of sunflower oil to Monopoli, Italy.
The center also approved the first vessel to arrive under the agreement, saying the Liberian-flagged Osprey S would call at the port of Chornomorsk in Ukraine on Monday. Maritime traffic tracking locations showed the ship north of the Black Sea entrance to the Bosphorus, where ships have been waiting for inspection teams to board.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9042920/ukrainian-ships-black-sea-russia/ More Ukrainian ships allowed to leave Black Sea coast as experts warn of Russia’s next move – National