United States/Ukraine: Terrorism and Grain

The hybrid proxy war of the U.S. and NATO against Russia in Ukraine took a radical and dramatic turn after July 20 with the addition of a new war arena on the front line: the Black Sea. In addition, the Kremlin suspended the Black Sea Grain Initiative in response to the collective West’s noncompliance regarding those obligations and commitments included in the agreed-upon pact that was mediated by the United Nations and Turkey.

Events precipitated on July 17 when, in a new psychological warfare operation of a terrorist propaganda nature — and before the failure of the so-called military counteroffensive and the fiasco of the NATO summit in Vilnius — the Volodymyr Zelenskyy regime used unmanned naval aerial vehicles to attack the 12-mile bridge linking Crimea and mainland Russia, killing two people and injuring a minor. Military experts pointed out that naval surface drones (presumably a Nikola 3 of British origin) attacked the bridge under cover of a convoy of ships carrying the latest cargo under the grain agreement. They would have been guided by a U.S.-made Reaper drone (a space-targeting and reconnaissance system), to which Ukraine has no independent access. According to Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharova, the “terrorist regime” in Kyiv has all the characteristics of an “international organized crime group.” She said the decision to attack the bridge was made with “direct participation” by politicians and members of the U.S. and U.K. intelligence services (CIA and MI6), who are in charge of the “terrorist structure.”

Moscow’s response was overwhelming and unexpected to both NATO and Ukraine: From July 17 and for four nights in a row, Russia made retaliative attacks with precision weapons from the sea and the air against facilities where “terrorist acts were prepared”: industrial workshops, unmanned boats and infrastructures for the storage of fuel near the port cities of Odesa, Mykolaiv and Chornomorsk.

Since the beginning of the Special Military Operation in February 2022, the Kremlin had allowed Washington and NATO and their operative in Kyiv, Zelenskyy, to cross various “red lines” without significant results. Russia has not imitated the brutal U.S. style of warfare employed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba (1961), Grenada, Panama, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. Despite U.S./European Union sanctions, it has not cut economic ties with all hostile actors in order to bring the conflict to a quicker resolution. Hence, Washington and Brussels have believed Russian “red lines” to be empty words without consequences.

Additionally, the Kremlin announced on July 17 that it was suspending Russia’s participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed on July 22, 2022, by representatives of Moscow, Kyiv, Ankara and the U.N., which provides for the export of Ukrainian grain, food and fertilizers through the Black Sea from three ports, including Odesa. Russia claimed that it did its part by guaranteeing a safe corridor through maritime areas controlled by the Russian navy, so that the export of grain through Kyiv could go ahead (for the benefit of the Cargill, DuPont and Monsanto corporations, owners of 42 million acres of crops in Ukraine); however, the U.S. and the EU did not lift the sanctions they imposed on Moscow, such as the disconnection of the Swift banking system, thus boycotting the export of Russian products by hindering its marketing.

In turn — and in connection with the suspension of the grain pact and the liquidation of the maritime humanitarian corridor — the Russian Ministry of Defense announced on July 19 that as of July 20, all ships sailing in the Black Sea bound for Ukrainian ports would be considered “potential carriers of military cargo.” Consequently, flag countries of these ships would be considered to be participants in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime.

Russia argues that Ukrainian authorities used the security guarantees in the Black Sea to hit the Crimean bridge twice (Oct. 8, 2022, and July 17, 2023), and that by taking advantage of the inviolability guarantees, the ports of the province of Odesa were used as workshops and warehouses for the Ukrainian armed forces. From those sites, they would be able to attack ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels in the outer and inner waterways of the port of Sevastopol.

On July 21, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N. Dmitriy Polianskiy contended that during the year when the grain agreement was in force, Kyiv accumulated “important military-industrial, fuel and storage capacities” near its ports on the Black Sea, also housing “important human resources for the armed forces and foreign mercenaries.” He also considered the Odesa port infrastructure to be “a place of deployment and resupply of its troops with Western weapons.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby ruled out the use of U.S. military means to protect grain shipments entering and leaving Ukrainian ports. On July 21, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recognized the validity of Moscow’s claim for suspending the pact and called on Western countries to listen to his arguments, with the goal of reinstating the grain agreement. In turn, Zelenskyy declared in a video conference at the Aspen Security Forum that Ukraine considers the Crimean Bridge to be a military objective that must be “neutralized.” Kyiv also believes that ships sailing through the Black Sea bound for Russian ports could be considered carriers of military cargo, “with all associated risks.” The Black Sea, then, is a new war scene.

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About Patricia Simoni 182 Articles
I began contributing to Watching America in 2009 and continue to enjoy working with its dedicated translators and editors. Latin America, where I lived and worked for over four years, is of special interest to me. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy the beauty of this rural state and traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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