Ukraine Says Russia Dropped Explosives in Black Sea Shipping Lanes
Ukraine said on Wednesday Russian warplanes had dropped “explosive objects” into the likely paths of civilian vessels in the Black Sea three times in the last 24 hours, but that its fledgling shipping corridor was still operating. Ukraine is trying to build up a new shipping lane without Russian approval to revive its vital seaborne exports. Russia said it would consider any vessel a potential military target after it quit a U.N.-brokered deal in July that allowed some food exports to flow despite the war.
“The occupiers are continuing to terrorise the paths of civilian shipping in the Black Sea with tactical aviation, dropping explosive objects into the likely paths of civilian vessel traffic,” the southern military command said.
“There were three such drops registered in the last 24 hours. However, the navigation corridor continues to function under the watch of the defence forces,” it said.
Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command said on Tuesday that Russia was regularly dropping guided aerial bombs, sea mines or other as-yet unknown explosive devices near the corridor, the Suspilne public broadcaster reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week that the export corridor would continue to function despite threats from Russia and that he had discussed the matter of vessel insurance with at least one western leader.
He made the comment after a Kyiv-based consultancy, a British security firm and a specialised Ukrainian ports outlet reported that Kyiv had been forced to suspend the use of the corridor due to threats from warplanes and sea mines.
Ukrainian officials denied the route had been suspended, however. They say dozens of cargo vessels had travelled the route since it began operations in August.
(Reuters – Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Yuliia Dysa; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
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