Ukraine ports blockade as a part of Russian war

Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and Sea of Azov are among the key factors driving its economy. With Russia’s occupation of Crimea back in 2014 and continuous attempts to turn the Black Sea into a “Russian lake” which poses a threat to the security of the whole region, Ukraine’s marine capabilities have been constantly challenged. The full-scale invasion of February 24 has driven the crisis even further – now with the global implications.

Sea ports are the key logistical link in many supply chains, but the emphasis has been repeatedly out on Russia incapacitating them to export grains. ~20 million tons of grain have been blocked in the Ukrainian sea ports since the beginning of full-blown war, and now the new harvest has come along, albeit severely undermined by the invasion. Much of agricultural produce, on which countries in Africa and Middle East are dependent in particular, cannot be exported, threatening the global community with a severe food crisis.

Russia has repeatedly demanded the sanctions relief in exchange for grain, using food as a leverage against international community and in attempts to pressure Ukraine for surrender. This pressure is the key reason behind the sea ports blockade – which has forced smaller ports, mostly at the Danube River, to deal with extreme workload in attempts to transit the amounts of goods they did not have capacity for.

In addition to food crisis, Russian blockade and the increased presence in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov pose a serious threat to the regional security. The Crimean Peninsula has been heavily militarized after the occupation in 2014 and turned into a military base. Solidifying Russian hold on the Black Sea would directly threaten the security of the neighboring sea states – Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey and, of course, Ukraine. Georgia, with the 20% of its territory being under Russian occupation since the war of 2008, would become particularly vulnerable; direct confrontation with NATO member state, such as Romania, would dramatically increase, particularly given Russian aggressive foreign policy and repeated claims that it needs to move beyond Ukraine.

Deblocking Ukrainian ports without being subdued to the Russian blackmail is important not just to avoid the hunger, but also to strategically safeguard the Black Sea region. Watch Ukraine In Flames #116 to learn more.


  • Dmytro Barinov, Deputy Head of the Sea Ports Administration
  • Snizhana Strepetova, journalist.

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