As West accuses Moscow of ‘food crisis’, ships leave Mariupol with Moscow’s help while Ukraine holds ships in its ports
Western media and state officials continue to blame Russia for the ‘food crisis’, but Moscow is trying to reopen ports in Ukraine and Donbass
Without notice in the West, on June 21, the first foreign ship left the port of Mariupol since Ukrainian and foreign mercenary forces were entirely driven out of the Donbass city a month earlier. Escorted by Russian Navy boats, the ship’s departure set a precedent for a resumption of normal port activity to and from Mariupol.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on May 20 the liberation of the Azovstal factory from the Ukrainian Azov Nazi Battalion and, a few days later, said that sappers had cleared an area of one and a half million square meters around the city harbour.
In early June, the ministry said the facility was ready for use again. “The demining of the port of Mariupol has been completed. It is operating normally and has received its first freighters,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the time.
Russia promised to let the ships through safely, and on June 21, the Turkish ship Azov Concord departed with a Russian escort. At the port of Mariupol that day, before leaving, the captain of the ship, Ivan Babenkov, spoke to the media, telling us that the ship, without cargo, was heading to Novorossiysk for loading and then to its destination.
Rear Admiral Viktor Kochemazov, commander of Russia’s Novorossiysk naval base on the northeast Black Sea coast in the Kerch Strait from Mariupol, explained that while the corridor has been operational since May 25, the delay of almost a month in the start was due to the fact that « the ships were substantially damaged during the conduct of hostilities. » In particular, he said that some ships had been deliberately damaged by Ukrainian forces in order to prevent them from leaving.
On board a Russian anti-sabotage force boat, media watched the Azov Concord leave port. Further on, the ship would be met by warships from the Novorossiysk base and escorted to the Kerch Strait where FSB border control ships would continue to escort the ship.
A Bulgarian ship, the Tsarevna, was preparing to leave the port next, « also following the same humanitarian corridor to its destination in accordance with the owner’s court use plans », said Rear Admiral Kochemazov.
Western press ignores developments
Predictably, just as the Western media continues to ignore Ukraine’s war crimes against the Donbas republics, including not only the bombing of homes, hospitals and bustling markets – as well as the killing and maiming of civilians – they also fail to cover anything positive from areas where Ukrainian forces have been driven out and stability restored.
Instead, Western media continue to report that it is Russia that is blocking ports and preventing grain exports, and blaming Moscow for « worsening the global food crisis– when in reality it was Ukraine that mined the ports and burned the grain warehouses.
No more blatant misinformation from our American colleagues. They know perfectly well that Ukrainian ports are undermined by kyiv and our offers of humanitarian sea passages have been repeatedly rejected. And don’t trigger starvation in #Ukraine by depriving it of grain – don’t tell us we didn’t warn you! https://t.co/Y9PqG9hoJZ
— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) May 12, 2022
In fact, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, “70 foreign ships from 16 countries remain stuck in six Ukrainian ports (Kherson, Nikolaev, Chernomorsk, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhniy). The threat of shelling and the high mine danger posed by official Kyiv prevent ships from entering the high seas unhindered.
While Russia claims to have opened two maritime humanitarian corridors in the Black and Azov seas, kyiv apparently does not engage with state representatives and shipping companies about the departure of foreign ships from dock.
Meanwhile, in the same vein, outlets like the New York Times (which always writes from afar) claim that Mariupol is « to suffer deeply » under Russian rule (quoting the fugitive former mayor, away from the city for months, who is the source of previous wartime propaganda) even portraying the neo-Nazis of Azov as « the last military resistance of the city. »
Yet what I have seen on several trips to Mariupol over the past two weeks are rubble cleared so the rebuilding process can begin, newly created street markets, public transportand calm in the streets.
The people of Mariupol have certainly suffered, but now that the Nazis of Azov and the Ukrainian nationalists no longer rule, they can live without fear of persecution, execution, rape, torture and all the other « democratic values » forces backed by the West.
Rebuilding will take time, but with the port working again, and the ability to ship rebuilding materials by sea as well, it can begin, ship by ship.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.