UK Accuses Russia of Targeting Civilian Cargo Ship with Cruise Missile

The UK has accused Russia of targeting a civilian cargo ship with multiple cruise missiles as it rested in the Ukrainian port of Odesa last month. The attack, which occurred on August 24th, was successfully thwarted by Ukrainian air defenses, according to the UK’s foreign office. The Liberian-flagged ship was allegedly targeted by missiles fired by a Russian carrier in the Black Sea. This incident comes after Russia warned that ships traveling to Ukraine’s ports through the Black Sea may be considered military targets. The tension between both countries escalated when Moscow withdrew from a UN-backed grain deal, which allowed civilian cargo ships to export Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. Russia’s withdrawal was partly due to restrictions imposed on its own agricultural goods, as well as demands for entry into a global payments system, lifting of restrictions on Russian fertilizer companies, and access to insurance and foreign ports for its ships. Following the withdrawal, Russia began a series of strikes on Ukrainian ports in the south, despite its commitment not to do so under the agreement. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the attack and emphasized Ukraine’s right to export its goods through international waters. Since its withdrawal from the grain agreement, Russia has destroyed 280,000 tonnes of grain and damaged 26 port infrastructure facilities in Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Reni. The UK’s Foreign Office accused Russia of attempting to weaponize food and innocent trade at the expense of global food security. Kenya also expressed its disappointment over Russia’s withdrawal, labeling it a “stab on the back” for drought-hit countries in Africa. The move disproportionally impacts countries in the Horn of Africa, which are already facing food shortages due to drought. While Russia has promised to provide free grain to six African nations, the amount of grain destroyed by Russian strikes already exceeds the total pledged amount, which could have fed up to a million people for a year.