Russia Lays Mines In Black Sea To Interfere With Ukraine’s Grain Exports

Russia has reportedly laid many sea mines in the Black Sea. These can interfere with Ukraine’s grain exports, the White House declared on Wednesday.

The new mines may justify future attacks against civilian vessels and blame Ukraine, per the National Security Council. Besides such a well-coordinated effort in the Black Sea, it has been observed that Russia reportedly targeted Ukraine’s major grain export ports based in Odesa with drones and missiles on July 18 and 19, destroying agricultural infrastructure and about 60,000 tons of grain, per the statement.

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Two days after Russia had pulled out of a deal for Ukraine to ship its grains via the Black Sea, the Kremlin announced that all cargo vessels travelling to Ukraine’s ports could potentially be transporting military cargo supporting Kyiv. The Russian MoD issued the same message on Telegram’s popular social messaging platform. The National Security Council firmly believes Russia may target the civilian vessels in future attacks besides the recent bombing in Odessa that hit the grain supplies.

Following international law, the declaration permits Russia’s forces to board and search vessels they suspect of transporting arms, per James Kraska, a maritime law specialist and one of the authors of the Newport Manual of the Law of Naval Warfare, informed USNI News.

He explained that Russia has a right to do that under the law of visit and search. They are entitled to visit vessels and board to see if weapons are on them. However, if the ships fly the flag of Ukraine, they can easily be captured as war prizes. It does not make them the targets, per Kraska.

As part of the grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey, which expired as Russia pulled out Monday, Moscow had the right to examine ships headed to Ukraine, per Sal Mercogliano, an associate professor associated with Campbell University. The primary concern is if Russia decides to attack vessels going from or to Ukraine, per Mercogliano.

There is a high chance that there could be armed escorts to safeguard merchant vessels, but the question is who would be providing them, Mercogliano mentioned. Turkey closed the Bosphorus Strait to warships from the Non-Black Sea from stepping into the Black Sea. Turkey could offer an armed escort, as could Bulgaria and Romania as Black Sea nations. NATO can extend shore support or put its teams on these ships.
Besides, the Russian MoD specified some sections of the Black Sea as hazardous to navigation.

Subsequent information warnings about the withdrawal of safety guarantees, particularly to mariners, have been published following the established process, states the MoD’s message.

The new declaration follows the expiration of a deal that permitted grain to set sail from Ukraine. Moscow has also said that Russia did not get concessions as part of the agreement. That included reconnecting a bank in Russia to the international SWIFT system, execution of an ammonia pipeline, and permitting Russian vessels to dock at international ports.

Almost 10% of the grain in the world is produced in Ukraine. It is the bread basket for much of North Africa and the Middle East.

Reference: USNI, The Guardian

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