The suspension of the Black Sea shipment deal threatens global grain and food supply.
Days after Ukraine attacked the strategic Crimea bridge, Russia has declared all Ukraine-bound ships as potential “military targets,” news reports indicate. “Russia warned that from Thursday any ships sailing to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be seen as potentially carrying military cargoes,” Reuters reported Wednesday. The move could draw the U.S., and European NATO member states into a direct conflict with Russia as they continue to supply Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid.
Following Monday’s Ukrainian drone strike on the bridge connecting the occupied Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia, Moscow also ended the deal, which allowed Ukraine’s grain shipments to pass through the Black Sea.
Russia quits Black Sea shipping deal, hits Ukrainian gain depots
The suspension of the Black Sea shipment deal threatens the global grain and food supply. Ukraine is the world’s top producer of sunflower seed and among the leading exporters of wheat, rapeseed, barley, vegetable oil, and maize. “Pre-war, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest grain exporters, supplying about 10 percent of the trade in wheat, about 15 percent of the corn market, and more than 40 percent of the sunflower oil market. Ukrainian farms fed 400 million people worldwide, according to the UN World Food Program,” the Ukrainian newspaper Kyiv Post noted.
The Black Sea export corridor — as the United Nations-brokered deal was known, allowed the export of estimated 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the last year, news reports suggest.
The agreement was a humanitarian lifeline for many struggling third-world countries in Asia and Africa. The “UN says that under the grain deal, Ukraine has shipped 625,000 tonnes of food as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen,” BBC reported. “In 2022, more than half of the grain bought by the UN’s World Food Programme came from Ukraine.”
A series of Russian missile and drone attacks has damaged critical infrastructure in Odesa, Ukraine. The air raid targeted grain and oil terminals, causing a fire, and wounded around a dozen people.
Watch the full video below. pic.twitter.com/U531y0znV4
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 19, 2023
The Russian exit from the grain deal was accompanied by massive aerial strikes on gain depots in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa. “Since leaving the Black Sea Grain Deal this week, Russia has already struck Ukraine’s grain export ports in Odesa with missile and drone attacks. Some 60,000 tons of grain were destroyed in the attacks,” The Associated Press reported.
The attack comes after Russia quit the Black Sea grain deal that allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian grain ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/0NTKaDyzc6
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) July 19, 2023
Russian sea mines threaten civilian ships, U.S. fears
The Russian military is laying sea mines and preparing to broaden its assault on Ukrainian civilian shipping, the White House fears. “Russia yesterday declared hunting season open on commercial trawlers – and potentially civilian ships – on the Black Sea,” the newspaper Kyiv Post reported Thursday.
This naval offensive could drag the U.S. and NATO countries into a hot war with Russia as they continue to ship military and humanitarian aid to beleaguered Ukraine.
The UK-based Sky News reported Thursday:
The US has claimed Russian forces have laid sea mines in the Black Sea and are preparing for possible attacks on civilian ships in the region.
It follows Moscow’s withdrawal from a deal to allow the safe export of grain and its warning earlier that all ships heading to Ukraine would now be seen as potential carriers of military equipment.
White House National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge told reporters: “Our information indicates that Russia laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports.
“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.”
Possibly the biggest attack in Odesa last night since the start of the full-scale invasion. It’s a miracle nobody died as Ukraine doesn’t have enough Patriots to shoot down Oniks & X22 missiles. Grain terminals that feed the world were hit. 🤬 The Russians even bombed a cemetery. pic.twitter.com/B3jl9fAzO2
— Nate Mook (@natemook) July 19, 2023
Russia demands sanctions relief for restoring grain deal
Cut off from the lucrative Western markets, Russia wants concessions in exchange for returning to the deal. Germany’s state-run DW TV reported Russian conditions:
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would “consider” returning to the Ukraine grain deal if its demands were “fully” met, saying the agreement had “lost all meaning.”
It was the first time the Russian leader commented since Moscow this week exited the landmark deal, which allowed the safe passage of cargo ships from Black Sea ports.
“The continuation of the grain deal in its current form has lost all meaning,” Putin said at a government meeting.
“Of course we will consider the possibility of returning to it — but only under one condition: if all principles under which Russia agreed to participate in the deal are fully taken into account and fulfilled,” he added.
The Russia president named the “withdrawal of sanctions on supplies of Russian grain and fertilizers to world markets” as one of the main conditions.
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