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UK Defense Ministry: Russia's Black Sea blockade at risk from Ukrainian surface drones, missiles

by Martin Fornusek July 20, 2023 2:27 PM 2 min read
Grain ship TQ Samsun in the Black Sea on July 17, 2023, in Istanbul, Turkey.
Grain ship TQ Samsun in the Black Sea on July 17, 2023, in Istanbul, Turkey. Russia announced that it withdrew from the Grain Corridor Agreement, which was signed last year under the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations, which ensures the transportation of millions of tons of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports to the world. (Photo: Sercan Ozkurnazli/dia images via Getty Images)
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The Russian Black Sea Fleet will likely take an active role in blocking trade routes, but the blockade will be at risk from Ukrainian surface drones and cruise missiles, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on July 20.

The British intelligence analysis noted that Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17 effectively canceled security assurances for the passage of cargo vessels.

The decision was likely made some time ago as the agreement did not serve the Kremlin's interest any longer, the ministry wrote.

The analysis said that Russia seeks to mask this with disinformation, claiming that civilian ships are at risk from Ukrainian mines and that Kyiv was using the grain corridor for military goals, without providing any evidence.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared on July 19 that as of July 20, all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports will be considered "potential carriers of military cargo" and therefore legitimate targets.

According to the White House, the Kremlin is considering attacking civilian vessels on the Black Sea and then putting the blame on Ukraine. U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said that Russian forces laid additional sea mines in approaches toward Ukrainian ports.

Ukraine war latest: Zelensky says Russia deliberately targets grain infrastructure in Odesa Oblast
Key developments on July 19: * Russia’s overnight attack targets Ukraine’s grain infrastructure in Odesa Oblast, injures at least 10 * US to provide 4 NASAMS systems to Ukraine under new $1.3 billion military aid package * Russia threatens that all ships sailing to Ukrainian ports will be consid…

Russia's recent withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17 sparked international condemnation and fears of rising food prices.  The deal, brokered by Turkey and the U.N. in July 2022, allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural products during the ongoing full-scale Russian invasion.

Following the termination of the agreement, Russia launched three consecutive strikes over the past three days against Odesa, damaging the port infrastructure and destroying 60,000 tons of grain.

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