Russia drops explosives in Black Sea shipping lanes, Ukraine claims

The price of wheat rose on international markets after Ukraine said on Wednesday that Russian warplanes had dropped “explosive objects” into the likely paths of civilian vessels in the Black Sea. Ukraine said that it had happened three times in the past 24 hours, but that the new coast-hugging corridor operated by Ukraine remained operational.

Russia had said a few weeks ago that it would consider any vessel a potential military target, but Russia’s lack of control of the Black Sea west of Crimea has meant it has difficulties doing much about it. If the Ukrainian claims are true, Russia is using its planes to do a job that would normally be considered the job of the navy.

“The occupiers are continuing to terrorise the paths of civilian shipping in the Black Sea with tactical aviation, dropping explosive objects into the likely paths of civilian vessel traffic,” Ukraine’s southern military command said.

The spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command said on Tuesday that Russia was regularly dropping guided aerial bombs, sea mines or other as-yet unknown explosive devices near the corridor.

There were reports last week from reliable analysts of the sector that Ukraine had been forced to suspend travel along the corridor for three days – which Ukraine denied – due to threats from warplanes and sea mines.