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President of Ukraine: Russia Dealt Strongest Blow to Navigation in Black Sea since World War II

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Photo: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia has no place in the International Maritime Organisation. Source: President's website
Photo: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia has no place in the International Maritime Organisation. Source: President's website

In an address to the participants of the 33rd Assembly of the International Maritime Organisation, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia has no place in this organisation because no one has caused more damage to free navigation in recent decades. This is reported on the President's website.

"Russia has no place in the International Maritime Organisation, no place in its governing bodies, because no one has caused more damage to free navigation than Russia in recent decades. It must be held fairly accountable for this, and such responsibility of the aggressor will guarantee the preservation of global trust in this organisation," the President of Ukraine said, speaking to the participants of the meeting via video link.

Zelenskyy noted that with the outbreak of Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine, freedom of navigation in the Black Sea has suffered the worst blow since World War II.

"On the first day of the war, Russia blocked our ports and disrupted our maritime trade routes. This led to negative consequences. First of all, in terms of food security. Food exports from Ukraine affect the lives of almost 44 million people in different regions of the world," he said, adding that "Ukraine has managed to overcome this danger."

In particular, Zelenskyy reminded that even despite Russia's unilateral disruption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukraine was able to launch hundreds of ships with cargo to Europe, Asia and Africa. He also noted that despite Russia's massive attacks on ports and civilian vessels, its military potential is now significantly limited.

"We drove its fleet away from our part of the sea. And this allowed us to launch alternative routes in the Black Sea: almost 6 million tonnes of cargo have been transported in less than three months," the President said.

At the same time, Zelenskyy expressed confidence that the International Maritime Organization, as an institution established to ensure global maritime safety, should pay much more attention to the safe operation of seaports both in Ukraine and in those regions where aggression is taking place or may take place.

He also invited the organisation's representatives to visit Odesa and other coastal cities of Ukraine, "so that they could see what difficulties our people faced and how they overcame them".

The Head of State stressed that "everyone who tries to destroy the fundamental principles of navigation must be held accountable". "Freedom of the seas is one of the key freedoms that allowed humanity to embark on the path of progress. We must protect it together," he said.

In this regard, Zelenskyy called on the International Maritime Organization to "prove that no destroyer of freedom of navigation will go unpunished".

In July 2022, the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine signed the Black Sea Grain Agreement, as well as a mirror agreement between the UN and Russia on the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

However, in July 2023, Russia unilaterally withdrew from the grain agreement and began firing missiles at Ukrainian ports and grain merchant ships.

So now Ukraine will receive warships from partners to protect grain ships in the Black Sea.

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