A route called the 'Silk Road', linking Asia and Western Europe and bypassing Russia
This is dubbed the ‘New Silk Road' - connecting Ukraine and Asia without going through Russia.
The first cargo ship departs the Black Sea port of Illichivsk near Odesa. On it, a dozen containers bound for Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and eventually China. This is modern transportation on an ancient route – and there's hope this transcontinental link can boost Ukrainian exports.
Ukraine's Minister for Infrastructure, Andriy Pyvovarsky: "We are opening a new way from Europe to China and a new way for Ukrainian goods to reach those markets where we have always been very strong - Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan - those markets to which access is now temporarily restricted due to restrictions introduced by Russia for the transit of Ukrainian goods to the other countries."
By bypassing Russia, the entire route to China is two times shorter – at just 5,400km. It takes 11 days to fully traverse. It's hoped Ukrainian food, agricultural products and other general cargo could specially benefit. But there's already bigger plans down the line.
Hennadiy Zubko Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister: "A very important issue is the import of light oil and liquefied natural gas. This gives us the opportunity today to diversify the supply of energy resources to Ukraine. This gives us the opportunity to look into the future as a big transit country that can supply its own goods, import goods and can be a reliable transit party for the European countries from the Asian countries."
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Last year, the EU and China were more lucrative for Ukraine than the Russian market. With the current reciprocal trade bans enforced, its hope the New Silk Road could develop to put exporters on the path to success.