Source: Fox News
For the first time in nearly a month, a Russian warship has fired warning shots toward a cargo ship in the Black Sea on Sunday after the captain allegedly failed to respond to a request to inspect the ship.
Last month, Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal, which gave Ukraine the ability to ship agricultural produce by way of the Black Sea.
Reuters reported that Moscow officials considered all ships were potentially carrying weapons if they were heading into Ukrainian waters.
The Vasily Bykov patrol ship, Russia said, fired its automatic weapons at the Palau-flagged Sukru Okan ship after its captain did not acknowledge a request to stop so an inspection could be completed.
Russia also claimed the ship was moving toward Izmail, Ukraine, though shipping data from Refinitiv showed it was heading to Sulina, Romania. When the shots were fired, the vessel was near the coast of Bulgaria.
The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly alleged the warning fire was taken to get the vessel to stop.
Today's deliberate attack and forced inspection by Russia of Sukru Okan international civilian bulk carrier, which was en route to the Ukrainian port of Izmail, is a clear violation of international law of the sea, an act of piracy and a crime against civilian vessels of a third…— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 13, 2023
Once the cargo ship stopped, Russian military personnel boarded from a helicopter and conducted the inspection, according to the defense ministry. Once finished, the ministry added, the ship continued toward Izmail.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on X, formerly known as Twitter, the incident was a "clear violation of international law of the sea, an act of piracy and a crime against civilian vessels of a third country in the waters of other states."
"Ukraine will draw all the necessary conclusions and chose the best possible response," he added.
Ukraine’s Operational Southern Command spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk said Russia’s statement had not been confirmed, adding, "I believe that attention should be drawn to this, and the peculiarities of hybrid warfare should be kept in mind."
Humeniuk went on to say Russia was attempting to assert its right to stop a ship and deploy an aircraft in the Black Sea without consequences.
Russia’s actions, she noted, could be a signal to all civilian ships in the Black Sea.
Russia and Ukraine agreed a year ago on a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that reopened three Ukrainian Black Sea ports blocked by fighting and provided assurances that ships entering the ports would not be attacked. Russia declined to renew the agreement in July, complaining that its own exports were being held up.