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Israeli ship first to break Russian Black Sea blockade

The ships were monitored on their voyage by a number of NATO patrol planes

Illustrative - Russian navy vessel sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, April 21, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Yoruk Isik)

A civilian ship sailing under an Israeli flag openly defied Russia's blockade of the Ukrainian Black Sea ports and entered the Ukrainian branch of the Danube River on Sunday.

Israeli and international media cited Ukrainian news outlet Militarnyi, which claimed the cargo ship Ams1, registered to Sierra Leone, left Israel's southern port in Ashdod and sailed directly to Ukraine, most likely bound for the port of Izmail.

Shortly after the Ams1, two more ships entered the Black Sea while openly broadcasting Ukraine as their destination.

The ships were monitored carefully by a U.S. Navy P-8 patrol plane, a U.S. Army Challenger with a surface-scanning radar, a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 drone and an E-3 early-warning plane from NATO, Forbes reported.

“Reports of three civilian ships sailing to Ukraine unhindered may suggest that Russia is either unwilling or unable to enforce such searches at this time,” the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C. noted.

The Russian Federation let the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) expire on July 17, claiming its demands weren't met. It later stated that it would regard any ships bound for Ukrainian ports as military transports and would either stop or attack them. 

Russia heavily bombed the main Ukrainian Black Sea port in Odessa during the month of July, forcing Ukraine to look to its smaller ports on the Danube as an alternative route.

However, a Russian drone attacked the nearby Danube port of Reni on July 25.

The BSGI was intended to allow grain exports to leave the Ukrainian coast despite the war that rages in the country. In its 11-month runtime, 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain were exported.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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