Two days after quitting a UN-led Black Sea grain corridor and removing safety guarantees for vessels in its waters, Russia on Wednesday issued a stark warning to commercial vessels not to approach Ukraine any more.
“From 00.00 Moscow time on 20 July, 2023, all ships en route to Ukrainian ports in Black Sea waters will be considered as potential carriers of military cargo,” the Russian defence ministry announced.
“Accordingly, the flag states of such ships will be considered involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kiyv regime,” the statement added.
The warning comes to formalise similar statements made on Tuesday by Russian presidency spokesman Dmitry Peskov, which the US government in Washington protested.
The Russian statement also comes after the country's forces hammered the port of Odesa for the second day in a row, following Moscow's exit from the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI).
As a result of the missile and drone attacks, berths, as well as grain and oil terminals in Odesa and the nearby port of Chornomorsk were hit.
According to Ukrainian officials, damaged facilities include grain and port infrastructure serving local and international traders such as Kernel, Viterra and CMA CGM.
Russia had already declared on 14 July parts of the Black Sea as dangerous for navigation due to floating mines in the area, claiming they were put in the water by Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the Russian defence ministry published details and footage of a mine it claimed to have discovered and destroyed 180 kilometres (112 miles) north-east of the Bosphorus.
As TradeWinds already reported, all these developments show that there is no conceivable possibility for seaborne Ukrainian grain exports to resume after Moscow quit the grain initiative.
This leaves rail, truck and Danube river barges as the only imaginable ways to bring such foodstuffs to international markets.