Ukraine seizes initiative from Russia in Black Sea, Zelenskiy says
PHOTO CAPTION: A view shows Russian warships on sunset ahead of the Navy Day parade in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak
KYIV (Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday that Ukraine has seized the initiative from Russia in the Black Sea and forced Russia's naval fleet and warships to pull back, thanks to Kyiv's use of navel drones.
"For the first time in the world, it was in the Black Sea that a fleet of naval drones began to operate - a Ukrainian fleet," Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
"We managed to seize the initiative from Russia in the Black Sea..." he said.
Zelenskiy added that since the early days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow had blocked the Ukrainian Black Sea ports and damaged port and grain export infrastructure, disrupting global food markets.
Yet over the course of the war Ukraine had shifted the balance of power, Zelenskiy said, and he thanked Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova, which border the Black Sea, for their support.
"We were able to show that cooperation between the countries of the Black Sea region, with partners' support, can return stability to the world food market," Zelenskiy said at a meeting of representatives of the Black Sea countries.
"We were able to provide such protection to the western part of the Black Sea, which now allows our maritime export corridors to operate. The Danube region is also gaining new importance - it is also critical for global security."
After Moscow quit the U.N. brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative which allowed for the safe passage of grains out of Ukraine, a leading global grain exporter and grower, Kyiv set up an alternative corridor in August.
Ukraine has been able to export 4 million metric tonnes of cargo through that new corridor, Zelenskiy said previously.
Russia has intensified its drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian sea ports and grain infrastructure but Ukraine launched sea-drone attacks on Russian ships.
(Reporting by Olena Harmash; editing by Alexandra Hudson)