In a new turn of events between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian Air Force reportedly dropped at least four explosive devices on the transport routes of the Ukrainian unilateral grain corridor.
"For several days, there were no flights of Russian aircraft in the area of sea transport routes. However, on 25 October, they intensified their activity and dropped four explosive devices. Presumably, this was done to disrupt the movement of civilian vessels and discredit the Ukrainian Defense Forces, as we continue to ensure the safety of the humanitarian corridor used by ships around the world," a spokesperson for Ukraine's Southern Operational Command told maritime security consulting firm Ambrey.
Since the opening of the corridor, which runs through the waters of NATO member countries Bulgaria and Romania in order to deter Russia, Ukraine has exported some 700,000 tons of grain.
Ambrey has previously reported that Russian forces have been targeting transit routes to Ukraine's seaports, deploying sea mines in the area. They have assessed that Russia will continue to use tactics that offer a plausible level of deniability.
According to the security specialist, a direct attack on a merchant ship would result in increased freight rates and insurance coverage in the Black Sea Joint War Committee (JWC), which would harm Russian interests and likely decrease export volumes from Russian Black Sea ports.
Ambrey has recorded three incidents in the past two weeks in which vessels encountered an explosive device at the entrance to the Bystroe Canal. The company assessed that Ukraine has no interest in falsely claiming that Russia is targeting the grain corridor, as this could deter vessels from calling at Ukraine's seaports.
Ukrainian forces have not stated that they have managed to locate and destroy these devices. Ambrey added that six vessels were waiting east of the Sulina anchorage in Romania to enter Ukraine's seaports.
This latest attack on a freight corridor comes as Ukraine seeks to prevent Russia's re-election to the International Maritime Organization's decision-making body.
Ukraine claimed in a document addressed to IMO members that Russia's regular attacks by its occupation forces on ships attempting to leave the zone of hostilities "have posed a serious threat to the safety of navigation in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait" and that Russia's re-election to the IMO council would undermine the organization's credibility.
"The International Maritime Organization is the body responsible for maintaining safety and security in the maritime industry, protecting the marine environment and promoting the well-being of seafarers. Therefore, there is a strong need for its council to be composed of states committed to these goals and adhering to the principles and regulations set by the organization," Ukraine stated in the document.
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