Zelensky says two other ships are passing through the Black Sea corridor

September 2 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that two more ships had passed through a “temporary” shipping lane in the Black Sea that had been established since Russia withdrew from a U.N.-backed grain export deal in July.

“Two ships have successfully passed through our temporary ‘grain corridor,’” Zelensky wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The president did not identify the ships involved and did not mention when they completed their passage. Officials said on Friday that two ships had cleared the passage, bringing the number of people using it to four.

Zelensky said that Ukraine “is regaining true freedom of navigation in the Black Sea. Freedom requires determination.”

The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister said on Friday that two ships had passed through the passage from the port of Pevdenny: one flying the Liberian flag and the other in the Marshall Islands. The ships carried iron ore and iron concentrate.

Russia has blockaded Ukrainian ports since it invaded its neighbor in February 2022, and threatened to treat all ships as potential military targets after withdrawing from the UN-backed agreement.

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

The grain agreement allowed Ukraine, a major exporter of agricultural products, to ship tens of millions of metric tons of products to other countries during the Russian invasion.

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

Russia withdrew from the agreement in July after it had been in effect for a year, complaining that its food and fertilizer exports faced obstacles and that not enough Ukrainian grain was reaching countries in need.

Ron Popeski reports. Edited by Jonathan Oatis

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