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Ukraine calls for international support as Russia threatens neutral vessels

Ukraine calls for international support as Russia threatens neutral vessels Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (Photo: Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Daria Shekina

Ukraine strongly condemns any threats of the use of force against civilian vessels regardless of their flag. Russian statements regarding the potential use of force against commercial ships in the Black Sea are seen as an encroachment on the freedom of navigation worldwide, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The statement from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed strong disapproval of Russia's intentions to view foreign vessels as military targets, emphasizing that such actions grossly violate Russia's obligations under international law, not just toward Ukraine but toward all states engaging in peaceful navigation in the Black Sea.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, commercial vessels of states not involved in armed conflict have the right to free and peaceful navigation, which should not be considered an act of aggression. International humanitarian law norms prohibit any attacks on neutral vessels that are not engaged in military operations or supporting such actions.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserted that there is no basis to believe that commercial vessels are engaged in military activities when simply exporting grain to foreign countries in need to prevent famine.

The actions of Russia, including the attempt to establish a blockade, cannot be justified by any norms of international law, including the right of a belligerent party to establish such measures.

The statement highlighted that Russia's announcement serves no legitimate military purpose; rather, it is aimed at intimidating Ukraine and neutral states. Furthermore, Russia's announcement applies to the entire Black Sea, not just the area around Ukrainian ports, and it does not make exceptions for medical and other humanitarian considerations, as required by the laws of naval warfare.

Ukraine called upon its partners to fully support its initiative to establish a humanitarian maritime corridor in the Black Sea. The humanitarian corridor would enable the re-establishment of vital food supply routes to regions in dire need.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the international community to condemn Russia's actions and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of navigation in the Black Sea, thereby guaranteeing global food security.

The exit of Russia from the "grain deal"

On July 17, in the Kremlin, Russia refused to renew the "grain deal." Russian dictator's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, stated that the arrangements regarding the "grain initiative" had effectively been terminated.

Following this, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed to Türkiye and the United Nations to continue the "grain initiative" in a trilateral format. Ukraine is considering the possibility of transporting food through the territorial waters of Romania and Bulgaria.

On July 19, the Ministry of Defense of Russia threatened that any countries whose vessels sail under their flags to Ukrainian ports would be considered involved in the war.

At the same time, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin stated that Russia would resume its participation in the "grain deal" only if the West meets a set of demands.

After Russia's announcement of exiting the "grain deal," the aggressor country launched large-scale shelling on the southern regions of Ukraine. Last night, Russia carried out a third massive combined strike on Ukrainian cities using cruise missiles and kamikaze drones.