Two more ships pass through Black Sea corridor -Zelenskiy

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that two more ships had passed through a “temporary” Black Sea shipping corridor established since Russia withdrew from a U.N.-backed grain export deal in July.

“Two ships have successfully passed through our temporary ‘grain corridor’,” Zelenskiy posted on X, previously known as Twitter.

The president did not identify the vessels involved or say when they had completed their passage. Officials on Friday said two vessels had cleared the corridor — bringing to four the number that have used it.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine was “restoring true freedom of navigation in the Black Sea. Freedom requires determination.”

On Friday, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister said two vessels had passed through the corridor from the port of Pivdenny: one flagged in Liberia, the other in the Marshall Islands. The vessels were carrying pig iron and iron concentrate.

Russia has blockaded Ukrainian ports since it invaded its neighbour in February 2022, and threatened to treat all vessels as potential military targets after pulling out of the U.N.-backed deal.

In response, Ukraine announced a “humanitarian corridor” hugging the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria.

The grain agreement had allowed Ukraine, a major agricultural exporter, to ship tens of millions of metric tons of produce to other countries during Russia’s invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as Ankara and the United Nations seek to revive the grain export deal.

Russia quit the deal in July after it had been in effect for a year, complaining that its own food and fertiliser exports faced obstacles and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; editing by Jonathan Oatis)