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UK planes guard Ukrainian grain ships in Black Sea

by Abbey Fenbert September 9, 2023 12:47 AM 2 min read
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak exiting 10 Downing Street in London on Sept. 6. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) 
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The U.K. has been sending Royal Air Force (RAF) planes to protect Black Sea vessels carrying grain shipments from Ukraine, a Downing Street press release disclosed on Sept. 7.

The U.K. Defense Ministry began providing aviation security to Ukrainian ports following a wave of Russian attacks on grain infrastructure in July, when Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

"We will use our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to monitor Russian activity in the Black Sea," the press release said. "As part of these surveillance operations, RAF aircraft are conducting flights over the area to deter Russia from carrying out illegal strikes against civilian vessels transporting grain."

On July 19, Russia said it would consider all ships sailing to Ukrainian ports to be military targets.  

Attacks on Ukrainian ports have increased again in recent days, with repeated missile strikes targeting grain infrastructure in Odesa Oblast's Izmail district.

The U.K. government also said it would soon announce plans for a world food summit in November, as part of its "efforts to help vulnerable people and economies deal with the impact of Putin’s actions."

The Downing Street announcement comes as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travels to the G20 summit in India.

Sunak called Russian dictator Vladimir Putin "the architect of his own diplomatic exile," adding that other G20 leaders "are demonstrating that we will turn up and work together to pick up the pieces of Putin’s destruction."

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