Russia is putting mines in the Black Sea as part of a plan to halt Ukrainian trade and suffocate the ports that Kiev still controls, according to U.S. intelligence.
The Russian navy has been ordered to extract the waters near the ports of Odessa and Ochakiv, and has already extracted the mouth of the Dnipro river, according to a report in The Guardian.
“The United States has information that the Black Sea Fleet is under order to effectively block the Ukrainian ports of Odessa and Ochakiv” in a blatant attempt to block the use of ports under Kyiv control, a US official told the magazine.
The report comes just two weeks after the Kremlin demanded that Ukraine mine clear Odessa and give Russia control of the shipping routes into the historic port. during a meeting with Turkey on Kiev’s grain trade.
In these negotiations – to which Ukraine was not invited – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that Russia would not “abuse” its naval superiority if Ukraine allowed such control, saying that the Kremlin would “take all necessary steps to ensure , that the ships can leave [Odessa] free.”
“The impact of Russia’s actions, which have caused a cessation of maritime trade in the northern third of the Black Sea and made the region unsafe for navigation, cannot be underestimated as Ukraine’s seaborne exports are crucial to global food security,” the US official said. said.
The United States also downgraded satellite images Thursday showing an apparent Russian missile attack on Ukraine’s second-largest grain terminal in the city of Mykolaiv.
Ukraine, formerly one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, maize and sunflower oil, now has millions of tons of the essential foods that are languishing in its silos due to Russia’s invasion and subsequent Black Sea blockade.
Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a global famine, saying “the impact of the war on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe and accelerating.”
The war – added to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising fuel prices and other factors – “threatens to trigger an unprecedented wave of hunger and distress, leaving social and economic chaos in the wake,” he said.