KYIV (Reuters) - Two cargo vessels have left a port near Odesa, Ukraine's deputy prime minister said on Friday - the third and fourth to transit from deep-water Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea since Russia withdrew from a safe-passage deal for grain ships.
Oleksandr Kubrakov said the Liberia-flagged Anna-Theresa and Marshall Islands-flagged Ocean Courtesy bulk carriers had left the port of Pivdennyi through a temporary corridor for civilian vessels.
Russia has blockaded Ukrainian ports since it invaded its neighbour in February 2022, and threatened to treat all vessels as potential military targets after pulling out of the U.N.-backed Ukrainian grain deal in July.
In response, Ukraine announced a "humanitarian corridor" hugging the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria. Two vessels stuck in Ukrainian ports during the invasion have thus far been able to use it to leave.
Kubrakov's ministry, responsible for Ukraine's infrastructure, said in a Facebook post that the Anna-Theresa had been in port since Feb. 22, 2022, and the Ocean Courtesy from Feb. 16 of the same year.
LSEG interactive map data showed the two vessels more than 10 km (6 miles) from the shore on Friday, under way using their engines and heading south-east.
The Anna-Theresa and Ocean Courtesy were, respectively, carrying 56,000 metric tons of pig iron and 172,000 tons of iron ore concentrate, Kubrakov wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko, who is from Odesa, posted on the Telegram app on Friday that two ships were seen near the city. He posted a photograph showing two distant ships. Reuters could not immediately verify the date or location of the photo.
The grain agreement had allowed Ukraine, a major agricultural exporter, to ship tens of millions of tons of produce to other countries during Russia's invasion.
(Reporting by Max Hunder, additional reporting by Anna Pruchnicka and Olena Harmash; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Andrew Heavens and John Stonestreet)