Russia Preparing to ‘Enforce Blockade on Ukraine’ With Warships, Says UK

Grain filling of a ship in a western port of Ukraine. After the change of Russia in its wi
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Russia has redeployed its warships in the Black Sea and there is a “realistic possibility” that it will deploy a task force to intercept civilian ships heading to and from Ukraine’s ports as part of a blockade, a British intelligence digest says.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative collapsing last week, meaning there is no longer a safe corridor for Ukrainian grain exports by sea, has seen a shift in Russian military posture says the United Kingdom, predicting the coming of a full-on blockade.

Noting the redeployment of a modern Russian corvette to the southern Black Sea, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence digest that: “Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has altered its posture since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), in preparedness to enforce a blockade on Ukraine… There is a realistic possibility that it will form part of a task group to intercept commercial vessels Russia believes are heading to Ukraine.”

Without the Grain Initiative moderating behaviour in the Black Sea and providing a corridor for exports, there is now “the potential for the intensity and scope of violence in the area to increase”, the MOD said. Russia has already massively stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure, regularly bombing Odessa for over a week.

The consequences of the collapse of the grain deal are potentially considerable, given Ukraine’s status as a major exporter in the world food market, and the fact a lot of their exports have traditionally gone to less wealthy countries. As previously reported, a sudden spike in grain prices causes fresh waves of emigration from the developing world, sparking new migrant crises in Europe.

It is claimed the collapse of the grain deal will see global grain prices spike by up to 15 per cent. While Ukraine has a considerable land border with Europe, simply switching from maritime to overland shipping for grain is extremely difficult given the enormous bulk of the commodity, the typical destinations for the product, and the lack of infrastructure.

Exporting by the Danube is being explored. Ukraine says Russia is deliberately targeting its grain exporting infrastructure, with Ukrainian Agrarian Council Denys Marchuk remarking: “Russia understands that Ukrainian grain is one of the key directions of Ukraine’s potential export, which gives money, and they really don’t want to see Ukrainian grain. In fact today, by blocking the Black Sea, they are artificially raising the price of grain in the world so that later offer their grain to poor countries, and at high prices”.

Marchuk said if European countries didn’t want to see fresh waves of migration from poor nations, it should give Ukraine more weapons more quickly.

Given the importance of grain exports from Ukraine to the rest of the world, even if just indirectly for developed nations wanting to reduce push-factors for global mass migration, there may be pressure for the West to do more to defend merchant shipping in the Black Sea. This could take the form of more equipment donations to Ukraine, but as has been previously suggested, could be more direct, risking direct conflict between NATO and Russia.


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