Russia may want to use sea mines to attack civilian grain ships in the Ukrainian “humanitarian corridor” on the Black Sea. The British Foreign Office warns against this. By using mines instead of missiles, for example, Russia can more easily shift blame to Ukraine.
The deployment of sea mines would be the next step in Russian efforts to disrupt Ukraine’s exports of grain and other agricultural products. After the large-scale invasion, Russia blockaded Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea for several months. After mediation by Turkey and the United Nations, Russia agreed to a grain deal last summer, which allowed Ukraine to ship grain again on a phased basis. However, in July Russia refused to extend this agreement.
To circumvent the port blockade, Ukraine established a “humanitarian corridor” in mid-August. Since then, more than ten cargo ships have left Ukrainian waters via this route close to the coast. The UK now says it has intelligence that Russia wants to plant mines along this corridor.
This would not be the first time that Russia has used force to stop Ukrainian grain exports. After the grain deal ended, the Russians repeatedly bombed Ukrainian ports with drones and missiles. According to the British, at least 130 buildings and other facilities were damaged. The UK said a total of nearly 300,000 tonnes of grain were destroyed in the attacks, enough to feed more than 1.3 million people for a year.
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