The UK believes that Russia could target civilian ships in the Black Sea, following the Kremlin’s decision to leave the Black Sea Grain Initiative, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Tuesday.
“The UK believes that Russia may escalate its campaign to destroy Ukraine’s food exports by targeting civilian ships in the Black Sea. We will highlight this unconscionable behaviour at the UNSC. Russia should stop holding global food supplies hostage and return to the deal,” he said in a tweet.
Russia could target civilian ships in the Black Sea and blame Ukraine, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council said last week.
Russia has also laid additional sea mines in the approach to Ukrainian ports, NSC spokesperson Adam Hodge said in a statement Wednesday. Earlier that day, Russia’s defense ministry said any ship sailing toward a Ukrainian port would be considered a potential carrier of military cargo.
Repeating the warning from the NSC, the director of the CIA said on Thursday that Russia could be preparing a false-flag operation attacking a ship in the Black Sea.
Russia's Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Thursday that attempts to attribute to Russia the preparation of attacks on civilian vessels are "pure fabrication" and "completely contradicts our approaches."
UK PM on Russian grain threats: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said any Russian attempt to stop grain exports from leaving Ukraine would be completely “unacceptable.”
Sunak said in a tweet that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier on Tuesday “and made it clear that any Russian attempt to stop grain leaving Ukraine is completely unacceptable. We must continue to stand with Ukraine.”
CNN’s Oren Liebermann, Radina Gigova and Mick Krever contributed reporting to this post.