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OSINT outfit: Russia lied about ship inspection in Black Sea

by The Kyiv Independent news desk August 14, 2023 12:58 AM 2 min read
A vessel is seen in the port upon arriving under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Odesa, southern Ukraine. (PYulii Zozulia / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

InformNapalm, a Ukrainian open-source intelligence outfit, reported on Aug. 13 that the Russian authorities had lied about a Russian ship firing warning shots in the Black Sea earlier on the same day.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported on Aug. 13 that Vasily Bykov, a Russian patrol boat, had fired warning shots after the captain of the Palau-flagged cargo ship Sukru Okan failed to respond to a request to inspect the vessel.

According to InformNapalm, the ministry also lied about the successful inspection of the vessel.

“Sukru Okan did not comply with the demand to stop, but temporarily changed its course in the direction of Turkish territorial waters,” the report reads. “There was no helicopter and no warning shots either. There were only threats from the Russians over the radio.”

Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine's Southern Operational Command, reported that the alleged inspection of the vessel cannot be confirmed.

“This has not been confirmed by any other official sources. I think that we need to keep in mind the peculiarities of hybrid war,” Humeniuk said. “They are trying by all available means to show their dominance in the Black Sea."

Humeniuk  added that the current transport corridors in the Black Sea should be under international guarantees.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov also said that Ukraine cannot confirm whether the information stated by Russia was true. But at the same time, such actions can be seen as a “gross violation of the norms of international law by Russia," he said.

Russia is trying to “intimidate and obstruct the movement of commercial vessels,” he added.

Currently, the Sukru Okan ship is near the Bulgarian coast and heading towards the Romanian port of Sulina, according to the Refinitiv shipping data, Reuters reported.

When Russia quit a U.N.-brokered grain deal on July 17, Moscow announced that ships heading to Ukrainian seaports could be considered military targets.

The grain deal had allowed Ukraine to export its grain through the Black Sea. Russia has been bombarding Ukrainian agriculture infrastructure daily since the end of the agreement.

The Ukrainian Navy on Aug. 10 announced new temporary routes for civilian vessels moving to or from Black Sea ports amid the blockade imposed by Russia.

The navy didn't clarify whether the new routes had been agreed with Moscow.

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