A cargo ship carrying metal has left Mariupol and headed to Russia, a pro-Moscow separatist leader said on Tuesday, the first time a vessel had sailed from the Ukrainian port since it fell to Russian forces.
“Today 2,500 tonnes of sheet metal rolls left the port of Mariupol, the ship is heading to Rostov,” Denis Pushilin, the pro-Kremlin separatist leader in Donetsk, wrote on Telegram.
“This transport hub is very important for Donbas. This is the largest port on the Sea of Azov and the only one where all types of cargo can be handled, including in winter,” he said.
The port of Mariupol was Ukraine’s second-busiest, after Odessa on the Black Sea, before Russia launched its offensive on February 24.
Russia said last week the port was reopening after the military demined an area of 1.5 million square metres in the port, with sappers working in the docks and on ships moored there.
After weeks of devastating siege that left the city in ruins, Russian forces earlier this month took full control of Mariupol when Ukrainian forces holding out inside the vast Azovstal steelworks surrendered.