Dryad Global has provided an updated risk assessment on the Black Sea and Bosporus region.

All commercial operations at Ukrainian Sea ports have been suspended by order of the Ukrainian military. As part of Russia’s ongoing operations, Russia has blocked inward access to the Sea of Azov.

Dryad Global advises that any vessel currently within Ukrainian ports should seek to leave immediately if deemed safe to do so. Vessels should ensure they are broadcasting on AIS and clearly state their intentions across VHF. Any vessels challenged by Russian military vessels should comply fully with instructions.

At this time, Dryad Global suggests all commercial operators should avoid any transit or operation within the EEZ of Ukraine or Russia within the Black Sea. Commercial operations within the EEZ of Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania remain unaffected at this time. However, the Romanian ministry of defence has also announced that Russian military ships are diverting and stopping commercial ships en route to Ukrainian ports north of Romania’s EEZ.

As the situation develops there remains a high degree of uncertainty regarding the freedom of navigation throughout the wider Black Sea. As such the primary risk to all vessels and commercial operations beyond the key risk area remains one of commercial uncertainty rather than risk to safety of crew. Vessels and commercial operators are reminded to avoid all operations and transit within the EEZ of Russia and Ukraine at this time. No attempt should be made to access the Sea of Azov. 

Dryad said that the risk of suspicious approach and irregular maritime behaviour in the wider Black Sea and Bosporus is substantial. As a result of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, it is likely that commercial traffic will encounter military vessels and or vessels acting in an unclear manner.

The risk of vessels boarding in the wider Black Sea and Bosporus is deemed moderate, as is the risk of vessels being fired upon in the wider Black Sea and Bosporus area.

The risk of interference from military or paramilitary vessels has increased to severe. These interactions have the potential to hinder trading conditions and lead to interruptions in commercial operations.

“Maritime operations against Ukraine are underway including a blockade of the Sea of Azov and attacks on the port of Odessa and the port town of Mariupol. Vessels are reminded to avoid all operations within the EEZ of Ukraine and Russia within the Black Sea,” said Dryad.

Threat from geopolitical events has been upped to critical. Widespread sanctions are believed to be imposed on Russia. Ukraine has called for Turkey to close the Dardanelles and the Bosporus straits to prevent Russian Naval reinforcements. 

Russia already has a considerable concentration of forces within the Black Sea, a blockade of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus straits would likely be considered a hostile act by a NATO member state and largely unenforceable without significant risk of escalation. “Such a closure of the strait is assessed as highly unlikely. In the unlikely event that action is taken to restrict access, it is likely that this would be restricted to military vessels,” said Dryad.