On July 19, the White House issued a cautionary statement stating that there is a possibility of the Russian military targeting civilian ships in the Black Sea. This warning came after the Kremlin decided to halt its involvement in a wartime agreement that had previously permitted Ukraine’s grain exports.
According to a statement made by Adam Hodge, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, information provided by US officials suggests that the Russian military has placed mines in the vicinity of Ukrainian ports. Hodge further elaborated that the White House perceives this as a deliberate and organized action by the Kremlin with the aim of justifying potential assaults on civilian vessels while also shifting blame onto the Ukrainian government.
After withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain agreement, Moscow launched drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian grain export ports located in the city of Odesa. According to reports, the assault resulted in the destruction of more than 60,000 tons of grain. Nevertheless, the Kremlin maintains its stance, asserting that only certain parts of the southeastern and northwestern areas of the Black Sea, which are considered international waters, are temporarily hazardous for shipping.
During a televised address on July 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that his government would no longer uphold the grain deal following the incident involving an attack on Crimea’s Kerch Bridge. Putin directly accused Ukrainian troops of carrying out the bombing on the bridge situated in the Crimean Peninsula. Notably, this bridge had been a crucial supply route for the Russian military since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
After Putin’s speech, Sergey Mironov, a Russian congressman, suggested that instead of renewing the deal, the Kremlin should focus on destroying Ukrainian infrastructure. He argued that this aggressive approach is necessary and more beneficial for Russia than engaging in discussions over a grain deal that supposedly only benefits the rulers in Kyiv and their Western allies.
Putin’s decision comes at a critical moment, as Ukrainian troops are facing challenges in their counteroffensive operation. In a message on his Telegram channel, Oleksander Syrskyi, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces, described the situation on the eastern front as complex. He also mentioned that Russian troops were amassing their forces in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.