UK Accuses Russia of Targeting Grain Tankers

( – The United Kingdom is accusing Russia of plotting to sabotage and sink vessels carrying grain from Ukraine. The foreign secretary for the UK, James Cleverly, says Russia is using what he calls “pernicious targeting” on civilian ships carrying grain.

Information coming from a newly declassified intelligence briefing alleges that Russian forces would deploy sea mines within the Black Sea approaches to destroy the transport ships covertly. The theory put forward is that by using the mines the Russians would avoid using missiles and then try to blame Ukraine for the sunken ships.

These ships are traveling within Ukraine’s newly created humanitarian corridor and an outright attack on them would surely bring retribution from the NATO nations. The covert mine theory introduced by the British Foreign Office has been made public because they say they are trying to deter Russia from deploying the strategy. Cleverly added that “the world is watching” as he warned Russia not to attempt to sink these grain ships.

In July of this year Russia pulled out of a year-long initiative that gave safe passage to food exports despite the ongoing war. Experts worried that the Russians pulled out of this agreement specifically to target these ships. They theorize that Russia could covertly deploy the mines via their Kilo-class submarines which carry 24 mines each. The target locations in addition to the Black Sea port could include ports in Odessa and Chornomorsk.

The threat of such actions may be enough to deter the civilian ships from traveling into the ports to receive the grain. To alleviate fears, British officials have offered to work with Ukraine to improve the port’s safety through surveillance and intelligence operations. The UK also alleges that in August, Russia fired missiles at a ship flying a Libyan flag as it made its way into Odessa. The missiles were shot down before reaching their target but officials speculate this may lead to a change of tactics by the Russians and the use of mines.

Estimates are that Russian has destroyed about 300,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain since they began targeting it in July of this year. Prior to this war Ukraine was delivering roughly 8-10% of global grain and 10-12% of barley and corn.

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