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Russian Defense Ministry: All ships sailing to Ukrainian ports to be considered military targets

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 19, 2023 8:52 PM 2 min read
Last ship under grain agreement leaves Odesa: The Turkish bulk carrier TQ SAMSUN, loaded with Ukrainian agricultural products, leaves the Ukrainian port on July 16, 2023. (Yulii Zozulia / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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The Russian Defense Ministry declared on July 19 that, as of July 20, all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports will be considered military targets.

All ships traveling across the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports from midnight Moscow time on July 20 "will be considered as potential carriers of military cargo," and therefore regarded by Russia as on the side of Ukraine in the war.

The statement added that "a number of sea areas in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the international waters of the Black Sea have been temporarily declared dangerous."

The message claimed that the "corresponding information warnings about the withdrawal of safety guarantees" have been issued.  

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, dealing a significant blow to global food security.  The deal, which was brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022, allowed Ukraine to export grain amidst Russia's full-scale invasion.

Earlier on July 19, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian attacks on port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast have destroyed 60,000 tons of grain.

"This is a terrorist act not against Ukraine, but against the whole world," stated Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi. "If we cannot export food, then the population of the poorest countries will be on the verge of survival."

It was the second consecutive strike against Odesa in the past two days. On July 18, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov referred to the attacks as retaliation for the explosions that damaged the Crimean Bridge on July 17.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on July 17 that Russia is using food "as a weapon in its war against Ukraine."

"For years (Ukraine) has been the breadbasket of the world," Blinken said, adding that in roughly a year that the initiative has been in effect, Ukraine has exported the equivalent of 18 billion loaves of bread.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also made a statement on July 17 in which he said that the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are facing hunger "will pay the price."

President Volodymyr Zelensky has called Russia's withdrawal from the deal "blackmail."

Ukraine war latest: Grain deal collapses after Russia pulls from agreement
Key Developments on July 17: * Grain deal collapses after Russia pulls from agreement * Crimean Bridge damaged after reported explosions * Military: Russian forces on the offensive in Lyman-Kupiansk direction * Foreign Ministry marks 9-year anniversary of Russian downing of MH17 * More Wagner…
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