Russian warplanes have dropped "explosive objects" along the likely route of civilian vessels in the Black Sea three times in the past 24 hours, Ukraine's Southern Operational Command said on Nov. 1.
Russia is continuing to "terrorize civilian shipping routes in the Black Sea," it wrote in a Facebook update. Nonetheless, the route remains open under the surveillance of Ukraine's defense forces.
The comments came after back-and-forth reports on Oct. 26 about the closure of the temporary grain corridor.
Kyiv-based Barva Invest consultancy reported on Oct. 26 that Ukraine had temporarily halted the use of its new trade route in the Black Sea due to the potential threat from Russian warplanes and sea mines.
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov quickly denied the reports, saying on X that “The information regarding the cancellation or unscheduled stoppage of the temporary Ukrainian corridor for the movement of civilian vessels from and to the ports of the Big Odesa (region) is false.”
The new corridor’s suspension could have dealt yet another blow to Ukraine’s agricultural sector after the collapse in July of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Ukraine set up its own trade route in August to move food exports out of its Black Sea ports near Odesa, defying Russian threats.
As of late October, Ukraine has managed to export nearly 700,000 metric tons of grain through the temporary corridor — a start, but a fraction of the more than 30 million metric tons of food commodities exported under the grain initiative.
Ukraine was shipping up to six million tons of grain monthly from its Black Sea ports before the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
The route is not without its hazards, however. A Turkish cargo ship suffered minor damage from a mine 20 kilometers from the Romanian port of Sulina on the Black Sea on Oct. 5.