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KYIV: Ukraine said Thursday it had opened maritime routes for civilian vessels from several Black Sea ports, following Moscow’s decision to exit an agreement allowing safe passage for grain exports from the transit hubs.

The measure is a challenge to Russia, which announced in July that it would consider any ship nearing Ukraine in the Black Sea as a potential military cargo carriers.

“Temporary corridors for commercial vessels going to and from the ports of Ukraine have been announced,” the navy said in a statement on social media.

Ukraine will mirror Russian attacks in Black Sea: Zelenskiy

The corridors opened Thursday, Ukrainian Navy spokesman Oleg Chalyk said, who added that naval forces would likely not provide any escort.

“We are organising it… I don’t think warships will accompany” the vessels, Chalyk said.

Instead “moving vessels will be equipped with surveillance cameras” visible by everyone to prove that they “don’t pose any military threat”, Chalyk said.

It was unclear whether any ship had yet left the Ukraine’s southern ports via the newly opened routes.

Attacks have multiplied on both sides of the Black Sea since Russia in July exited a deal protecting grain exports from Ukraine, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

Russia has hit port infrastructure on the Black Sea and the Danube, while Ukraine has targeted Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

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