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White House: Russia considers attacking ships in Black Sea, blaming Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 20, 2023 9:56 AM 2 min read
A vessel is seen in the port upon arriving under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Odesa, southern Ukraine, April 12, 2023.
A vessel is seen in the port upon arriving under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Odesa, southern Ukraine, April 12, 2023. (Photo credit: Yulii Zozulia/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Russia is considering attacking civilian ships on the Black Sea and putting the blame on Ukraine, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said on July 19.

The information is based on declassified intelligence, the Associated Press cited the official.

Hodge supported Kyiv's claim that recent Russian strikes against the city port of Odesa targeted agricultural infrastructure and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain.

According to the White House official, Russian forces laid additional sea mines in approaches toward Ukrainian ports. Hodge pointed out a recent video released by Moscow showing the detection and liquidation of an alleged Ukrainian sea mine.

"We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks," the official said.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared on July 19 that as of July 20, all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports will be considered military targets.

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, sparking 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.

On July 19, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian attacks on port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast have destroyed 60,000 tons of grain. The city suffered three consecutive strikes over the course of the past three days.

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

"Every Russian missile is a blow not only to Ukraine but also to everyone in the world who seeks a normal and safe life," President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the Russian attacks against the city.

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…
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