Russia warns that ships heading to Ukraine are now a military target
US intelligence confirms that Russia may expand its targeting of Ukrainian grain facilities to include attacks against civilian shipping in the Black Sea
Russia’s defence ministry says all ships headed to Ukraine ports from Thursday will be considered as potentially carrying military cargo. Flag states of those vessels will be considered to have sided with Kyiv
SHIPS heading to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports could be considered military targets, Moscow warned on Wednesday, following another series of Russian strikes against Ukrainian ports.
Russia’s defence ministry said that all ships headed to the ports from Thursday would be considered as potentially carrying military cargo.
“In connection with the cessation of the functioning of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the сlosing of the maritime humanitarian corridor, from 0000 hrs Moscow time on 20 July 2023, all vessels sailing in the waters of the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports will be regarded as potential carriers of military cargo,” reads a message the Russian Ministry of Defence issued on the social messaging platform Telegram.
It also said flag countries of vessels sailing to Ukraine would be considered as taking Kyiv’s side in the war.
According to US intelligence, the threat to commercial shipping now includes additional sea mines that have been laid in the approaches to Ukranian ports.
Adam Hodge, White House National Security Council spokesperson, said: “We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks.”
The warning comes just days after Russia ended the Black Sea grain deal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had said earlier that his country was studying options to get the grain corridor open again, including convoys for ships, according to the Interfax news service.
Zelensky also said Russia had intentionally attacked grain-deal infrastructure overnight, as he ordered his military to boost port defences and diplomats to step up contacts with partners to continue exports of crops.
“In addition to this coordinated effort in the Black Sea, we have already observed that Russia targeted Ukraine’s grain export ports in Odesa with missiles and drones on July 18 and 19, resulting in the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and 60,000 tonnes of grain,” said Hodge.
With Russia’s exit from the grain corridor deal threatening to worsen global food supplies, Ukraine said on Wednesday it was establishing a temporary shipping route via Romania.
“Its goal is to facilitate the unblocking of international shipping in the north-western part of the Black Sea,” Ukraine’s acting minister for communities, territories and infrastructure development Vasyl Shkurakov said in a letter to the International Maritime Organization.