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Russia will inspect all ships sailing in the Black Sea to make sure they don't carry military cargo, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said on July 21, as reported by Russian news agency Interfax.
Vershinin also said that there is no longer a humanitarian corridor for commercial vessels in the Black Sea.
Vershinin’s claim comes two days after the Russian Defense Ministry declared that, starting from July 20, all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports would be considered as potential carriers of military cargo and therefore regarded by Russia as on the side of Ukraine in the war.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry also announced on July 20 that all vessels on the Black Sea heading toward Russian or Russia-occupied ports would be treated as ones carrying military cargo "with all associated risks" starting from July 21.
"The Russian Federation has once again brutally violated the universal right to free navigation for the whole world and is deliberately undermining food security, condemning millions of people to starvation," reads the ministry’s statement.
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.
On July 19, the Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian attacks on port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast had destroyed 60,000 tons of grain.
"This is a terrorist act not against Ukraine but against the whole world," Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi said.
"If we cannot export food, then the population of the poorest countries will be on the verge of survival," he said.