As a cargo ship departs Odesa Ukraine defies Russia’s threat of naval attack. Wednesday marked the departure of the first vessel from Ukraine’s ports since Russia threatened to attack civilian commerce in the Black Sea one month ago.
Shortly after Russia attacked one of Ukraine’s two Danube river ports for the third time since July, destroying and damaging granaries and warehouses, the ship departed from Odesa, according to a Telegram message from Odesa’s governor, Oleg Kiper.
Spire Global, analysts of maritime data, reported that the ship’s signal, transporting more than 30,000 tonnes of cargo, including food, was picked up only a few hours after its departure.
The shipowners stated that the radar was active and that “no constant signal can occur for various reasons; we are not doing this on purpose.”
Wednesday saw a 1.4% increase in benchmark wheat prices to $6.06 per bushel due to the increased risk to Ukrainian grain exports. As a result of bumper harvests in Russia and other food-producing nations, grain prices have declined from more than $10 per bushel just over a year ago to levels lower than before the collapse of the grain agreement.
In July, after withdrawing from a UN-brokered grain export agreement, Russia declared that all civilian vessels traveling to and from Ukrainian ports would be considered military targets. Since the agreement’s collapse, Ukraine has been using its two Danube river ports, Reni and Izmail, to convey grain via canal to the Romanian port of Constanța, where the exports can be transported by sea.
According to Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Hong Kong-flagged vessel Joseph Schulte was transiting an established civilian vessel corridor despite Russian threats.
Bernhard Schulte, a German corporation, and an unnamed Chinese bank co-own Joseph Schulte. The company stated that the ship was using the route proposed by Ukraine on August 10 and accepted by the International Maritime Organization, traveling to Istanbul via the territorial waters of Ukraine and Romania.
The company added that the ship, which docked at Odesa on February 23, 2022 — one day before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — is operated by Ukrainian personnel.
“If Russia escalates, it will come into direct conflict with Germany and its Chinese allies,” said Gennadiy Ivanov, director of BPG Shipping, a Ukrainian dry bulk shipping company with offices in Odesa, Dubai, and Greece.
Ivanov stated that more ships would use the route if the effort were successful.
“No other option is available to Ukraine, and everyone knows this. Numerous grains must be exported through [Ukrainian Black Sea ports]. “The Danube cannot handle it all,” Ivanov said.
Ukraine has increasingly utilized the Danube ports of Reni and Izmail to continue exports. According to Russia’s defense ministry, Russia launched warning shots at a Turkish vessel attempting to reach Izmail. Before the conflict, the ports were infrequently utilized, but when the Black Sea Grain Initiative was in effect, they accounted for one-third of Ukraine’s grain exports.
Sorin Grindeanu, Romania’s transport minister, stated on Tuesday that the country intends to double the amount of Ukrainian grain exported via Constanța by employing more personnel and completing infrastructure projects to facilitate the passage of ships through the Danube’s Sulina canal. The canal connects Constanța to two Ukrainian ports on the opposite side of the boundary.
Between 2015 and 2020, the price of cereals remains significantly above the average.