Mariupol seaport resumes shipping, but Ukraine steel mills yet to use it

The major Ukrainian seaport of Mariupol has been reopened, with a steel cargo belonging to Ukrainian steelmaker Metinvest shipped to Russia but without the company’s consent, according to information from Donetsk authorities and Metinvest.

However, the port does not service Ukrainian steel companies yet as the city remains under Russian control.

The first shipment from Ukraine’s Azov Sea port of Mariupol was made on May 31. A ship carrying 2,500 mt of hot-rolled steel coil was headed to Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic, Denis Pushilin, said on its Telegram channel.

He did not say anything about the origin, nor the ownership of the steel cargo, but it belongs to mining and steel group Metinvest, according to the company’s spokesperson. The company sees this act of sending its steel products to Russia as an illegal seizure of its property, the spokesperson from Metinvest said.

Metinvest had to suspend its Azovstal and Ilyich steelworks shortly after the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, and the mills remain idled. The company has no access to them at the moment.

By the time Russia invaded Ukraine, Metinvest had a stockpile of steel products in the Mariupol port delivered from its Azovstal and Ilyich steelworks situated in the same city. These steel products were meant to be exported to buyers, including those in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Portugal and Turkey, said the spokesperson.

The port of Mariupol is an important transport hub as the largest port on the Sea of Azov and the only one handling all types of cargo, including in winter.

— Ekaterina Bouckley