Russia’s defense ministry said it has created conditions for two maritime humanitarian corridors to allow ships to move safely in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, according to a statement posted to Telegram on Monday. The statement comes amid international condemnation over Russia’s months-long blockade of key ports.
“The Russian Federation is taking the full range of measures to ensure the safety of civilian shipping in the waters of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea,” the Russian ministry said in the statement. “There remains a danger to navigation and damage to port infrastructure from the expulsion of Ukrainian mines torn from anchors along the coast of the Black Sea states.”
Some context: World leaders have condemned a months-long blockade by Russian forces at key ports in Ukraine — including Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Odessa on the Black Sea — that has left more than 20 million tons of grain trapped in the country. Ukraine’s navy said on Monday that about 30 Russian ships and submarines are continuing to block civilian shipping in the Black Sea.
According to the Russian statement, the Maritime Humanitarian Corridor in the Sea of Azov will operate around the clock to allow ships to leave the port of Mariupol,
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry in the Black Sea said a maritime humanitarian corridor will operate during working hours “to exit the ports of Kherson, Mykolaiv, Chornomorsk, Ochakiv, Odessa and Yuzhne in a southwesterly direction from Ukraine’s territorial sea.”
The Russian ministry also accused the Ukrainian authorities of not taking steps to solve the problem of blocked ships.
On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Ukraine must mine coastal waters to allow grain ships to pass and ensure that Russia will facilitate their passage and not use the demined naval corridors to attack Ukraine.
Ukraine has also accused the Russians of setting mines in the Black Sea.
Anna Chernova of DailyExpertNews contributed to this post.