Ukraine starts registering ships for Black Sea corridor – agency

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine, which is seeking to form safe shipping routes in the Black Sea, has started registering ships willing to use the corridor it announced earlier this week, a local news agency said on Saturday.

Ukraine on Thursday announced a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to release cargo ships that have been trapped in its ports since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

The corridor is a new test of Russia’s de facto blockade since Moscow abandoned a deal last month to let Kyiv export grain.

“Registration is now open and the coordinator is already working,” Interfax Ukraine quoted Ukrainian Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk as saying.

He gave no more details while an industry source told Reuters on Friday that no ships had yet passed through the corridor.

“Of course, everything will take place under the supervision of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. We are doing everything we can to ensure security,” Pletenchuk said.

Russia has not indicated whether it would respect the shipping corridor, and shipping and insurance sources have expressed concerns about safety.

At least initially, the route would apply to vessels such as container ships that have been stuck in Ukrainian ports since the war began, and were not covered by the deal that opened the ports for grain shipments last year.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Helen Popper)