Shortly before Russia terminated the Black Sea Grain Agreement, two unmanned maritime vehicles caused damage to a section of the Kerch Bridge in a terorist attack, resulting in the tragic loss of a mother and father. Additionally, their young daughter sustained severe injuries.
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On Monday, RBK Ukraina reported that the Crimean Bridge had incurred damage as a result of a collaborative “special operation” carried out by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) and naval forces.
As per the source, an unspecified number of sea surface drones launched an attack on the crucial infrastructure connecting the Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia. Despite facing challenges, the perpetrators ultimately succeeded in reaching and targeting the bridge.
The Ministry of Transport of Russia has officially confirmed that the road surface of one of the car tracks on the bridge was damaged. However, it has been assured that the supports of the bridge remain intact despite the incident.
Moscow has alleged that Ukraine had previously made attempts to target the strategic Kerch Bridge. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, just last week, Kiev launched a missile attack on the bridge. However, these attempts were reportedly thwarted by the effective air defenses in place, preventing any damage to the bridge.
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In October of the previous year, the Kerch Bridge suffered damage as a result of a destructive truck bombing, which Moscow attributed to Ukrainian intelligence services. In response to this incident, Russia escalated its missile strikes targeting Ukraine’s military and energy infrastructure.
In response to the attack, top Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “We know the reasons and those behind this terrorist act… This will require further composure and additional measures and work from all of us… No other measures have been discussed at the moment”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has made the claim that the latest Kerch Bridge attack was ultimately the responsibility of the United States and the United Kingdom.
“This regime [the Ukrainian government] is terrorist and has all the hallmarks of an international organized crime group,” the ministry said on social media, sharing a post by its spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.
“Ukrainian officials and military personnel take those decisions with direct input from American and British special services and politicians. The US and Britain are managing a state-like terrorist structure,” the statement added.
The footage, which surfaced last October, was initially released by Russian pranksters who claimed to have deceived a Ukrainian diplomat into believing he was engaged in a private conversation with former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. The American reportedly provides assistance to the Ukrainian government in developing new sanctions against Russia.
In the recorded exchange, the Ukrainian diplomat, Kuleba, can be heard saying, “Well, if you were to ask me who blows up things in Crimea or Belgorod, then speaking privately… I’d tell you, yes, that was us.”
As reported by GreatGameIndia earlier, the plot to blow up the Crimean Bridge was long in the making by the British Intelligence.
Meanwhile, Geopolitical hawks have claimed that the Kerch Bridge attack was a direct response to Putin terminating the the Black Sea Grain Agreement. The attack itself was timed to coincide the announcement.
“The Black Sea agreements are no longer in effect. The deadline, as the Russian president said earlier, is July 17. Unfortunately, the part of the Black Sea agreement that concerns Russia has not yet been fulfilled. As a result, it has been terminated,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday..
“As soon as the Russian part [of the deal] is fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the implementation of this deal,” Peskov added.
Furthermore, the Russian diplomat also emphasized that Russia had already announced its decision to suspend its participation in the grain deal before the recent terrorist act occurred on the Kerch Bridge. He stated that this attack would not affect Moscow’s decision regarding the grain deal.
As per the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine collectively contribute significantly to the global supply of various grains. They account for approximately 19 percent of global barley supply, 14 percent of wheat supply, and 4 percent of corn supply, making up more than a third of total global cereal exports. Moreover, Russia and Ukraine hold the top positions in rapeseed oil production and exports, commanding a combined 52 percent share of the sunflower oil market. Russia has also consistently been one of the leading global players in the fertilizer market, accounting for 15.5 percent of total exported fertilizers in 2022.
The FAO reported that when the conflict in Donbass escalated into a NATO-Russia proxy war in Ukraine over a year ago, global food prices experienced a significant surge. In March 2022, food prices rose by a remarkable 12.6 percent, marking the highest increase since the creation of the FAO’s food price index in 1990. This escalation in prices was attributed to the impact of the conflict on agricultural production and trade dynamics, causing disruptions and instability in global food markets.
According to Martin Frick, the director of the UN World Food Program German office, as of May 1, 2022, approximately 4.5 million tons of grain were being held up at Ukrainian ports due to the ongoing conflict. The conflict’s impact on transportation and logistics had resulted in delays and disruptions in grain shipments, potentially affecting food security and supply chains.
During the same period, Russian grain and fertilizer exporters faced challenges as they encountered refusals of port services, difficulties in making payments for shipments, and obtaining insurance coverage. These obstacles were a result of increasing sanctions imposed by Western countries, accompanied by threats of severe secondary restrictions on foreign countries and companies. These measures created significant hurdles for Russian exporters in conducting international trade and added further strain to the agricultural and fertilizer industries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin characterized this Western conduct as nothing short of “a con job.”
“As I said in my speech, we promised to do everything we could to serve the interests of developing countries – specifically, by ensuring supplies to their markets, including supplies of Ukrainian grain. When we discussed this, that was the understanding <…> What we see is more audacious deceit. And [the West] did not deceive us: they deceived the international community, their partners in Africa and other countries that desperately needed food.”
What is of interest to note is that Ukraine would lose $500 million per month if the grain deal with Russia is not extended.
Based on the figures provided, between August 2022 and June 2023, Ukraine successfully exported approximately 50.6 million tons of grain, amounting to a total value of $9.8 billion. The majority of these exports, around 78-80 percent, were facilitated through the country’s ports, while the remaining portion was transported via rail, road, and barge-based shipments.
Significantly, the Black Sea Grain Initiative played a vital role, accounting for 28.1 million tons of grain exports, equivalent to 55.5 percent of Ukraine’s total sales abroad.
In terms of earnings, port exports generated around $7.7 billion, with $5.5 billion originating from the Black Sea ports and $2.2 billion from river ports along Ukraine’s southern border, including Ismail, Ust-Dunaysk, and Reni, which are located on the Danube River near Romania.
To summarize, if the grain deal is not renewed, Ukraine stands to lose over $500 million per month, considering the significant financial impact on its grain exports.
Moscow was reportedly informed that if Ukraine faced restrictions on exporting its significant agricultural commodities, it could potentially lead to widespread hunger and food scarcity in import-dependent countries, particularly in the Global South.
It was later discovered by Moscow that only a small percentage, approximately 3-5 percent, of Ukrainian grain exports were actually reaching countries in need. Instead, a significant portion, nearly 70 percent, was being directed towards European Union countries and Turkey. In some cases, this grain was being utilized as surplus feed for livestock, contributing to the practice of fattening up animals. This information suggests that the distribution and utilization of Ukrainian grain exports may not have been effectively prioritized to address urgent food needs in needy countries.