The British Ministry of Defense warned Wednesday that Russia could be planning a naval blockade of Ukraine. The blockade would prevent ships from pulling into Ukraine and the Kremlin’s latest move in the Black Sea since Moscow withdrew from a U.N. brokered grain deal.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet altered its posture, likely to enforce a blockade of Ukraine, according to the British Ministry of Defense’s latest intelligence update.
Corvette Sergey Kotov, which was attacked by Ukrainian drones Tuesday, is patrolling the shipping lane between the Bosphorus Strait and Odesa, according to the MoD. It is possible that the patrol ship will join others to form a task force to intercept commercial ships heading to Ukrainian ports.
“The BSGI has moderated the involvement of the Black Sea in the war: there is now the potential for the intensity and scope of violence in the area to increase,” the British MoD tweeted.
NATO and allies plan to increase surveillance in the Black Sea region, which includes the use of maritime patrol aircraft and drones, according to a summary from the NATO-Ukraine Council meeting Wednesday.
It is unclear if the U.S. is involved in additional patrols. Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford was in the Ionian Sea, as of Monday. U.S. aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea have assisted with NATO efforts, including going under NATO command, USNI News previously reported.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 26 July 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence’s use of language: https://t.co/eqGEfaCnrU
— Ministry of Defence (@DefenceHQ) July 26, 2023
The NATO-Ukraine Council met Wednesday to discuss the situation on the Black Sea at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The members of the council condemned Russia’s withdrawal and recent attacks on Ukrainian ports, including port city Reni on the Danube River, according to a summary of the meeting.
“Allies noted that Russia’s new warning area in the Black Sea, within Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone, has created new risks for miscalculation and escalation, as well as serious impediments to freedom of navigation,” according to the summary.
Turkey continues to try and broker the continuation of the grain deal, which allowed Ukraine to export 32,856,036 tonnes of foodstuffs before the collapsed deal, according to the summary.
Bulgaria and Romania, as well as other countries, have continued, to offer transportation options for Ukrainian grain, including by rail.
“Russia continues to show utter disrespect for international law and for the people worldwide who depend on Ukrainian grain,” Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said in the summary. “Russia is threatening civilian ships, terrorizing peaceful cities, and destroying parts of the world’s cultural heritage with its brutal strikes. NATO is united. We stand in solidarity with our Black Sea Allies, we will continue to protect one another, and we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”