MOSCOW, July 20 (Reuters) – Russia has lifted restrictions on cargo vessels moving through the Kerch Strait between the Azov and Black seas, the head of the Russia-focused Sovecon consultancy told Reuters on Thursday.
“The vessels started sailing today, but they say navigation will be closed at night-time, probably,” Andrey Sizov said.
The movement of cargo vessels through the Kerch Strait was suspended by Russian authorities on July 16 following drone attacks on the Crimean port of Sevastopol.
The Kerch Strait is the route for around a third of Russia’s grain exports. According to Refinitiv Eikon’s ship-tracking data, the grain carriers Vera and Kapitan Sergeev were approaching the strait on Thursday.
The route is also used for exports of crude oil, fuel oil and liquefied natural gas.
The security of ships in the Black Sea has been called into question after Russia and Ukraine announced that they would consider all ships travelling to the Black Sea ports that the other controls as potential carriers of military cargo.
The moves followed Moscow’s withdrawal on Monday from a year-old deal in which it granted safe passage to ships exporting Ukrainian grain, despite pursuing what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The Russian Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport (Rosmorrechflot) declined to comment.
Security in the Kerch area also worsened on Monday with an overnight attack on the Crimean Bridge spanning the strait and connecting Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, to southern Russia.
Source : Reuters