Container ship leaves Odesa defying Russian threat

container ship leaves Odesa

Container ship leaves Odesa – A container ship successfully left the port of Odesa for Istanbul on Wednesday, defying Russia’s threat to attack civilian shipping in the Black Sea. This marked the first vessel to depart from Ukraine’s ports since Russia’s ominous warning last month.

The ship’s departure followed Russia’s third attack on one of Ukraine’s Danube river ports, Reni and Izmail, since July. These attacks resulted in the destruction and damage of granaries and warehouses. The Joseph Schulte, a Hong Kong-flagged vessel co-owned by a German company and an unnamed Chinese bank, carried over 30,000 tonnes of cargo, including foodstuffs.

The Vessel’s Route

Ukrainian officials highlighted that the ship was navigating through an established civilian vessel corridor. Despite heightened tension, the ship followed a route submitted by Ukraine and accepted by the International Maritime Organization. The vessel traveled through Ukraine and Romania’s territorial waters to reach Istanbul. It’s notable that the ship’s docking at Odesa in February 2022 preceded Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine by a day.

Russian threats have significantly impacted Ukraine’s grain exports, affecting grain prices globally. Ukraine had been utilizing Reni and Izmail to transit grain via a canal to the Romanian port of Constanța for sea shipment. This route gained more importance after Russia withdrew from a UN-brokered grain export deal in July and labeled all civilian vessels traveling to and from Ukraine’s ports as military targets.

Escalating Tensions

Gennadiy Ivanov, director of Ukrainian dry bulk shipping company BPG Shipping, pointed out that escalating tensions between Russia, Germany, and its Chinese allies could result if Russia chooses to escalate further. Ukrainian officials and analysts stressed the necessity of this route for Ukraine’s grain exports, given the limited capacity of the Danube.

Ukraine’s shift towards using Reni and Izmail ports for grain exports comes as Romania plans to enhance the efficiency of the Sulina canal on the Danube to accommodate more vessels coming from the two Ukrainian ports.

While the departure of the Joseph Schulte signifies Ukraine’s resilience in the face of threats, it also serves as a reminder of the complex geopolitical dynamics and economic implications that result from such events.