Russia may attack civilian shipping in Black Sea, US says
PHOTO CAPTION: Commercial vessels including vessels which are part of Black Sea grain deal wait to pass the Bosphorus strait off the shores of Yenikapi during a misty morning in Istanbul, Turkey, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House warned on Wednesday that Russia may expand its targeting of Ukrainian grain facilities to include attacks against civilian shipping in the Black Sea.
Adam Hodge, White House National Security Council spokesperson, said U.S. officials have information indicating Russia laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports.
"We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks," he said.
Hodge said Russia had announced that all ships proceeding to Ukrainian ports in Black Sea waters would be considered potential carriers of military cargo and said U.S. information indicated Russia had laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports.
"In addition to this coordinated effort in the Black Sea, we have already observed that Russia targeted Ukraine's grain export ports in Odesa with missiles and drones on July 18 and 19, resulting in the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and 60,000 tons of grain," he said.
Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of damaging grain export infrastructure in "hellish" overnight strikes focused on two of its Black Sea ports, vowing not to be intimidated from working to keep grain exports moving out of them.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler)