Russian warship appears damaged after Ukrainian drone attack on Black Sea port of Novorossiysk
Odesa, Ukraine — Ukrainian sea drones attacked a navy base at one of Russia’s largest Black Sea ports, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday, claiming that both of the drones used in the attack had been destroyed. Ukrainian sources said a Russian naval vessel was damaged in the attack, however, and video posted online appeared to show a ship listing to one side.
The overnight attack hit Russia’s Novorossiysk naval base on the Black Sea, and it reportedly forced a temporary halt to all ship movement at the key port.
Clashes in and around Ukraine’s Black Sea ports — which are currently blockaded by Russian forces — and at least one major river port have escalated since the collapse of an internationally-brokered deal that had, for a year up until last month, allowed for the safe export of vital grain supplies from.
Russia pulled out of that deal andfrom which Ukraine’s significant grain supplies are exported around the world, driving global grain prices up more than 10% in the immediate aftermath and threatening to keep them on the rise.
On Thursday, during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the world to insist that Russia stop using Ukraine’s food exports as “blackmail” and stop treating the world’s hungry and vulnerable people as leverage in its “unconscionable war.”
America’s top diplomat lashed out at Russia for ignoring appeals and pulling out of the year-old Black Sea Grain Initiative, which, during the year it was in effect allowed Ukraine to ship more than 32 million tons of grain from its Black Sea ports.
“What has Russia’s response been to the world’s distress and outrage? Bombing Ukrainian granaries, mining port entrances, threatening to attack any vessel in the Black Sea,” Blinken said. “Every member of this Council, every member of the United Nations should tell Moscow: Enough.”
The port that was attacked overnight by Ukrainian drones is one of Russia’s biggest on the Black Sea, and it’s a major hub for Russian exports, including its oil.
Russian media didn’t offer any reports of injuries or deaths, and the only official word from Moscow was the claim that both drones used in the strike had been destroyed.
Earlier this week, Russia again attacked port infrastructure in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, and for the first time it also struck grain export facilities at Ukraine’s Izmail port on the Danube river, just across from NATO member Romania. Izmail had become a main export route for Ukrainian grain following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain agreement on July 17.
Kyiv was preparing, meanwhile, for a peace summit to be hosted by Saudi Arabia over the weekend, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has already been looking further down the road, discussing still-unplanned talks that he hopes to see take shape after the Jeddah summit.
The delegations at the Jeddah summit will discuss a peace plan that has 10 key points, much like a Chinese proposal offered months ago and another one proposed by a delegation of African leaders a few weeks ago.
Unlike the other proposals, this one calls for Russia to give up all the territory it has seized from Ukraine, to pull all its troops out of the country, and for a tribunal to be convened to try those responsible for the invasion.
That would include Vladimir Putin, and it’s worth noting that Russia has not been invited to this weekend’s summit.