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ISTANBUL: A second civilian cargo ship to sail from Ukraine since Russia withdrew from a UN-backed Black Sea grain export agreement safely reached Istanbul on Monday, marine traffic monitors said.

The Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Primus hugged the coasts of NATO members Romania and Bulgaria after departing Odesa on Sunday in defiance of a Russian blockade.

Moscow warned that it may considered any ships in the Black Sea as military target and began bombing Ukrainian port infrastructure after withdrawing from the UN and Turkey-mediated deal last month.

Second vessel leaves Odesa through temporary Black Sea corridor: Minister

The Russian navy fired on and briefly boarded a Turkish-owned vessel that entered the Black Sea earlier this month.

A major grain and seed oil exporter, Ukraine is trying to establish a new route that its ships can use without Russia’s involvement in time for the autumn harvest.

Ukraine now depends on land routes and a shallow river port that severely limits its grain export volumes.

Turkey has been trying to revive the original agreement, hoping to use it as springboard for broader peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said on a visit to Kyiv on Friday that he saw “no alternative” to reviving the original deal.

Fidan is expected to travel to Moscow in the coming days to discuss the Kremlin’s demands and set up a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

No timing or venue for the presidential talks has been set.

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