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UKRAINE

Spain bars ship carrying suspected Russian cargo

Spain has barred from its waters a Maltese ship carrying cargo from a Russian vessel, in line with EU sanctions over the Ukraine invasion, the Spanish transport ministry said Wednesday.

Spain bars ship carrying suspected Russian cargo
The Maltese ship had planned to unload its cargo, including non-food palm oil and derivatives, on Wednesday evening at the port of Barcelona, the statement added. (Stock photo by PAVLOS VRIONIDES / AFP)

“The Maltese-flagged ship Black Star is denied access to Spanish territorial waters because there is evidence that it was carrying cargo transferred from the Russian ship Andrey Pervozvanniy, which is subject to EU sanctions,” the ministry said in a statement.

Spanish authorities had already prevented a stopover in Barcelona by the ‘Andrey Pervozvanniy’ on April 25, because of the European sanctions against Russia over its offensive in Ukraine.

The Maltese ship had planned to unload its cargo, including non-food palm oil and derivatives, on Wednesday evening at the port of Barcelona, the statement added.

A fifth package of sanctions, adopted on April 8, bans Russian-flagged ships from docking in EU ports, except those carrying food, humanitarian aid or energy.

The Spanish merchant navy was informed by the European Maritime Safety Agency that the “Andrey Pervozvanniy” had transferred its cargo to the “Black Star” on April 24 “12.5 nautical miles northwest of the island of Malta,” according to the transport ministry.

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UKRAINE

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.

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