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Bulk carrier Aroyat and general cargo vessel Resilient Africa arrives to the sea port of Chornomorsk. Photo September 16, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer.

Palau-flagged bulk carrier Aroyat and general cargo vessel Resilient Africa arrive to the sea port of Chornomorsk for loading with grain, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Odesa, Ukraine September 16, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer

UK Warns Russia May Target Civilian Ships in Black Sea ‘Humanitarian Corridor’

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1566
October 4, 2023

The UK government warned on Wednesday that Russia may continue to target civilian ships in the Black Sea to further disrupt Ukrainian grain exports.

Intelligence suggests that Russia could employ tactics such as laying sea mines near Ukrainian ports and subsequently blaming Ukraine for any resulting incidents.

This assessment is part of Russia’s broader strategy to impede Ukrainian grain exports. Russia withdrew from the UN-backed Black Sea Grain Deal in July. The deal facilitated the safe transportation of grain through Ukraine’s main export corridor. In response to Russia’s withdrawal, Ukraine has established a temporary “humanitarian corridor” which has enabled some ships to depart from Black Sea ports.

According to the UK’s assessment, Russia aims to target civilian shipping passing through this humanitarian corridor as part of an effort to pressure on the Ukrainian economy. The government said it believes Russia wants to avoid openly sinking merchant ships and instead will falsely attribute any attacks on civilian shipping to Ukraine.

The UK government says it is releasing the intelligence to expose Russia’s tactics and prevent such attacks from occurring.

The UK is working with Ukraine and other partners to improve shipping safety in response to the ongoing threat from Russia, which has included deploying intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to monitor Russian activity in the Black Sea.

Russia’s recent plans to disrupt Ukrainian grain exports align with a broader pattern of aggression in the Black Sea region. Since July, Russia has systematically targeted Ukrainian ports and civilian infrastructure.

The UK government said these deliberate and targeted attacks by Russia underscore President Putin’s willingness to weaponize food and trade, jeopardizing global food security.

“Putin is trying to win a war he will not win, and these attacks show just how desperate he is,” said Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. “In targeting cargo ships and Ukrainian infrastructure, Russia is hurting the rest of the world.”

Prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine played a vital role in feeding 400 million people globally and accounted for 8 to 10% of global wheat exports, as well as 10 to 12% of corn and barley exports.

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