Ex-US Admiral Proposes Attacking Russian Ships in Black Sea Amid Grain Deal Spat
05:55 GMT 23.07.2023 (Updated: 13:35 GMT 24.07.2023)
© Photo : Ministry of defence of the Russian FederationBlack Sea Navy Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla took part in strategic drills. File photo.
© Photo : Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation/
Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative last week, citing the systematic failure by the US and Europe to facilitate the export of Russian foodstuffs and fertilizers. The Russian Foreign Ministry subsequently warned that it could no longer guarantee the safety of navigation through the northwestern Black Sea.
Retired US admiral and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis has proposed deploying alliance forces in the Black Sea and having them attack Russian warships if they attempt to target ships streaming into or out of Ukrainian ports.
“NATO and the US could escort the grain shipments at sea, something they have plenty of capability to do with three major NATO nations in the Black Sea,” Stavridis told US media, referring to Black Sea-adjacent NATO members Turkiye, Bulgaria and Romania.
“With well stated warnings to the Russian Black Sea fleet, NATO should return fire if a Russian warship were to attack a grain ship, which is essentially a humanitarian vessel operating in international waters,” the retired admiral added.
Stavridis knows a thing or two about aggressive naval operations far from Western countries’ home shores. From 1987-1988, he took part in enforcing ‘Operation Earnest Will’, the US military operation protecting Kuwaiti tankers during the Iran-Iraq War. That operation led to US attacks on Iranian warships, and on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes missile cruiser shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Strait of Hormuz, killing all 290 passengers and crew onboard.
Stavridis did not elaborate on the potential consequences of firing on Russian ships in the Black Sea, which would constitute an overt act of war.
24 July 2023, 13:29 GMT
Grain Deal Suspended
Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Deal on its July 17 renewal deadline, citing Western countries’ failure to lift a number of restrictions on Russian food and agricultural exports. Western powers blasted Moscow over the move and warned that it could result in global food shortages hitting the poorest countries the hardest. Russia pointed out that less than 5 percent of all Ukrainian grain exported via the grain deal actually went to countries in need, and assured that it would take steps to assure that these countries do not go hungry.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called a meeting of the newly-created Ukraine-NATO Council in connection with the suspension of the Grain Deal, saying he discussed with alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg “steps to unblock and ensure the sustainable operation of the grain corridor.” The meeting is expected to take place in a “few days’” time, according to Zelensky.