- Russia fires on cargo ship in Black Sea
- Russia says it uses automatic weapons to open fire
- Russia says the ship did not respond to a stop warning
- Russia says the ship is now on its way to Ukraine
MOSCOW, Aug 13 — A Russian warship fired warning shots from automatic weapons at a Palau-flagged dry cargo ship in the southwestern Black Sea as it headed towards Ukraine on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The UN will ensure that Ukraine can bring its agricultural products to market via the Black Sea. Russia scrapped a brokered grain deal last month and Moscow warned that it would consider all ships sailing into Ukrainian waters capable of carrying weapons.
Russia said in a statement that its Vassili Bykov patrol vessel fired automatic weapons at the Sugru Okhan after the ship’s captain failed to respond to a request to stop for inspection.
The Ministry of Defense said that the Shukru Okhan was on its way to the Ukrainian port of Ismail. According to Refinitiv Shipping data, the ship was heading north towards the Bulgarian coast.
“Warning shots were fired from automatic weapons to forcibly stop the ship,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The Russian military boarded the ship with the help of a Ka-29 helicopter.
“After the inspection team completed its work on board, Sugru continued on its way to Ogun Ismail port,” the Defense Ministry said.
Reuters could not immediately reach the ship or its owners for comment.
Ukraine and the West say Russia’s actions amount to a de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports that threatens to cut off the flow of wheat and sunflower seeds from Ukraine to world markets.
Ukraine’s response — maritime-drone attacks on a Russian oil tanker and a warship at its Novorossiysk naval base, next to a major grain and oil port — added to these new dangers to shipping in the Black Sea.
Both Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s leading agricultural producers, with major players in wheat, barley, sorghum, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed and sunflower oil markets. Russia also dominates the fertilizer market.
Guy Falconbridge Report; Editing by Bernadette Baum
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.