A Russian warship reportedly fired warning shots and boarded a cargo vessel it claims was sailing in the Black Sea to Ukraine on Sunday, per the Russian defence ministry.
Russia pulled out of a Turkey and UN-brokered grain contract in July 2023 that permitted Ukraine to move the grain via the Black Sea and warned that vessels headed to Ukraine would be treated as carrying weapons. Ukraine also made a similar threat to ships that were travelling to Russia’s ports.
Russia mentioned that the warship fired some warning shots when the captain of the Palau-flagged dry cargo vessel failed to respond to a request to pause for scrutiny.
The statement read that the Russian warship started the warning fire from automatic arms fire to make the vessel stop.
The ministry claimed the ship – dubbed Sukru Okan –set sail to the port of Izmail in Ukraine. Marine traffic websites now show that the cargo vessel’s destination is the port of Sulina in Romania near Izmail. Kyiv did not comment immediately on if the ship was headed toward a Ukrainian port.
To examine the bulk cargo vessel, the ministry successfully hoisted a Ka-29 helicopter with Russian servicemen from the patrol vessel dubbed Vasily Bykov. Following radio conversations, the ship stopped its course, and the boarding team landed on the bulk cargo vessel, the statement added.
This week Ukraine declared that it would be opening up a temporary humanitarian corridor for vessels to sail to and from its ports and has opened up the registration for merchant vessels to use the sea route.
Both Ukraine and Russia are substantial grain producers, and their deal – a rare point of deal in the middle of a war – did a lot to stabilize the prices.
Kyiv further argues that Russia’s withdrawal resulted in a blockade of Ukraine’s products. Russia has kept complaining that it wasn’t able to export its foodstuff.
A navy spokesperson of Ukraine, Dmytro Pletenchuk, said that the temporary routes aim at overcoming the global food security crisis and added that they would permit the shipowners and firms to take back merchant vessels that are in humanitarian captivity owing to the continuous threats of Russians at sea.
Pletenchuk said that ship owners and vessel captains have already been warned of the existing risk and noted that Ukraine’s Armed Forces would help to make sure the security of the merchant’s vessels sail through the corridors, with the Navy carrying out everything that can be done for more security.
Given the potential risks, it is unclear when the vessels might use the channel,
References: Deccan Herald, Reuters, CNN
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