Battle of the port of Odessa- Corriere.it

20 million tons of grain remains in Ukrainian silos. Russian fleet blocks commercial transit, Ukrainians aim to retake Snake Island to break blockade

Odessa was affected only by the war, but its port – the most important in the Black Sea – was closed by the Russians since the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s special military operation: Ships stopped at ports to prevent the export of grain and other agricultural productssuffocating the Ukrainian economy, but above all it risks provoking a global food crisis affecting the poorest countries in particular. The Russian government seems to think so Using food as a weapon It may achieve the result it did not achieve with its invasion: breaking the morale of the Ukrainian people, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a speech at the United Nations on Thursday. He added that the food supplies of millions of Ukrainians and people around the world are effectively being held hostage.

Moscow rejected the accusation, with former President Dmitry Medvedev – now the head of the Security Council – saying – The Russians are not stupid and will not export food as long as they are subject to severe sanctions: Denial actually confirms Blinken’s words. Medvedev argued in Telegram that there are no crises. Russia knows how to produce crops, which requires specialized people, equipment and fertilizers: we have the ability to guarantee food to other countries, only they prevent us. Russia and Ukraine together produce a third of the world’s wheat9% of world exports left Kyiv in 2019, but also 16% of maize, 10% of barley and 42% sunflower oil. 40% of potash, a fertilizer, comes from Russia and Belarus – the loyal Kremlin’s shoulder – instead.

Since the Russian forces crossed the border on the night of February 24, The cost of all these products is starting to riseBesides petroleum: even in Italian supermarkets, it is not difficult to find labels that limit the products based on sunflower oil that customers can buy. Russia claims that the Ukrainians are blocking foreign ships in their ports, undermining the territorial waterswhile for Blinken, the decision to use food as a weapon rests solely on Moscow: 20 million tons of unused grain are dumped in Ukrainian silos with low global stocks and high prices, he told the United Nations, where the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres trying to broker a deal Allow Ukraine to resume exports and Russia to re-produce food and fertilizers for world markets.

Since the beginning of the war 8 merchant ships were injuredone – Helt – sank off Odessa after likely hitting a mine: according to the IMO, As of April 20, 84 boats and 500 crew members were stranded in Ukrainian portswhile premiums for those planning to sail in the area are exorbitant.

So the naval battle is also fought on the trade routes With the war’s second phase drawing to a close, the great naval powers could push themselves to break the blockade imposed by the Russians, says British professor Lawrence Friedman. If the army in the field turns the target to the Donbass, At sea, the situation is more complex and changing. The Russian Black Sea Fleet had quick success at first, taking Snake Island from Odessa on February 25 and sinking the ship. Sloviansk In early March.

The Ukrainians responded by sinking the cruiser Moskva With two missiles from Neptune in mid-April, a massive reversal strengthened the confidence of the resistance and instilled caution in the hearts of the opponents. Since then Kyiv has tried several raids to retake Snake Island, A rocky outpost 35 km from the coast and has great strategic value: According to maritime law, land reigns over the sea and whoever controls that island also controls the 12 nautical miles surrounding it, a corridor that would allow the reactivation of trade routes choked out by the Russians.

Once the Kerch Strait – which connects the Sea of ​​Azov and the Black Sea – is closed – ships and submarines are placed in front of Odessa and other ports, in fact The Russians prevented merchant ships from leaving, and effectively imposed a naval blockadethat continues from the early stages of the conflict. An amphibious attack on Odessa was also feared for weeks, but it never happened because in the meantime The Ukrainians had planted floating mines along the coast. Meanwhile, invader frigates and submarines continued to target Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles and weapons to destroy military outposts, but also to terrorize civilians.

Russia failed to strengthen its positionsalso because Turkey—by appealing to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which allows it to close its straits to countries at war— Banning the passage of Union ships stationed in Syrian ports Banning the circulation of offshore assets: a ban that Russia allegedly circumvents the use of civilian cargo.

May 21, 2022 (change on May 21, 2022 | 21:48)

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