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21 Jul, 2023 07:28

Russian warships conduct drills in Black Sea

Navy vessels trained in intercepting trespassers in a no-go zone

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has conducted an exercise in enforcing a naval blockade, the Defense Ministry reported on Friday. The drills come after Russia and Ukraine declared that they would presume all civilian ships traveling to each other’s ports to be carrying military cargo.

According to the Russian ministry’s statement, warships and naval aviation “trained in isolating an area that was temporarily suspended for traffic” and “conducted measures to detain a [simulated] trespassing vessel.”

During the same exercise, a Russian patrol boat fired cruise missiles at a target ship placed on a training range. It was successfully hit and destroyed, the ministry reported.

On Monday, Russia declined to extend the Black Sea Initiative, a UN and Türkiye-mediated arrangement with Ukraine, which allowed Kiev to export grain via its seaports. Moscow said the UN had failed to deliver on its part of the bargain and convince Western nations to lift sanctions hampering Russian exports of food and fertilizers.

The Russian Defense Ministry further announced that starting on Thursday it would revoke security guarantees under the deal. It now considers all ships moving to Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea as “potential carriers of military cargoes” and their flag nations as “involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kiev regime”.

The Ukrainian military issued a similar warning on Thursday, which it claimed to be a response to the Russian policy. The statement declared the Black Sea a “danger zone” for Russian and Russia-bound ships.

Kiev also brought up the sinking of the Russian fleet’s former flagship, the Moskva, destroyed in April 2022 in what is widely believed to have been a Ukrainian missile attack. The Russian military said the warship was heavily damaged by a fire and explosions of munitions on board.

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