Moscow Cancels Black Sea Grain Deal After Large-Scale Drone Attack on Russian Warships

October 31, 2022 5:54 PM
Screen shot from a video showing a Russian ship from a camera board a suspected surface attack drone.

Russia said it suspended its participation in a United Nations-Turkey-brokered deal to allow grain to leave Ukraine following an alleged Ukrainian attack on Russian warships operating near Sevastopol, Crimea.

Russia suspended its participation in a deal that allowed ships to take grain out of three Ukrainian ports after explosions in Sevastapol, which Moscow said were from Ukrainian drones and semi-submersibles, with the help of British forces, according to reporting from state-run media TASS. A senior military official confirmed there were explosions in Crimea but would not give a damage assessment or offer additional information during a Monday briefing.

“Taking into account the act of terrorism committed by the Kiev regime with the participation of British specialists on Oct. 29, 2022 against the Black Sea Fleet ships and civilian vessels employed to safeguard the security of the grain corridor, Russia is suspending its participation in the agreements on the exports of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” according to the Russian defense ministry, TASS reported.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense took to Twitter Saturday to say Russia was “peddling false claims of an epic scale.”

Although Russia claimed it would not participate in the grain deal, grain ships were spotted sailing in the Black Sea.

USNI News contributor H.I. Sutton reshared satellite imagery on Twitter that shows a grain convoy in the Black Sea. A senior defense official told reporters that open source reporting showed grain ships sailing through the Black Sea, but it was an early report and the Department of Defense was closely watching the situation.

A senior military official told reporters that the defense department is aware of the reports of Russia suspending its grain deal participation but could not offer additional detail.

“You’ve heard us say that the Ukrainian agricultural products are critical to global food security,” the senior military official. “We certainly support the Turkey and UN brokered deal for these exports via the Black Sea, and so we would call on Russia to adhere to the deal’s terms. But beyond that, we don’t have any additional updates to provide.”

Moscow’s retreat from the agreement follows the Saturday attack on Russian Navy ships operating in the Black Sea by an unspecified number of surface an aerial attack drones.

“According to the results of the information recovered from the navigation receiver’s memory, it was established that the launch of maritime drones was carried out from the coast near the city of Odesa,” reads the statement via The Guardian.

“This may indicate the preliminary launch of this device from aboard one of the civilian vessels chartered by Kyiv or its Western patrons for the export of agricultural products from the seaports of Ukraine.”

Video footage released purported to be from a suspected explosive attack drone shows a high-speed vessel approach an Admiral Griogorovich-class guided-missile frigate. Black Sea flagship Admiral Makarov has been operating recently near the Russian Navy’s naval base in Sevastapol, but Russian officials did not specify any ships that were attacked beyond minor damage to mine countermeasures ship Ivan Golubets.

On Monday, Pentagon officials would not provide additional details on the attack or what Russian ships were damaged.

“We’re tracking the reports and Russian statements regarding an alleged attack against Russian navy vessels in Sevastopol,” a senior military official told reporters on Monday.
“We do assess that there were explosions there, but I’m not going to have a damage assessment to share nor am I going to have any further information to provide in terms of what may have caused these explosions.”

H I Sutton Image used with permission

Based on the characteristics of the drone gleaned from the video circulating on social media, the vessel bears similarities to a built from recreational watercraft that washed ashore near Sevevastapol in September, according to Sutton.

Based on the photos, the drone appeared to be made from componentes of recreational watercraft — specifically a Sea-Doo — that could travel at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.

In a piece for Naval News, former Turkish naval officer Tayfan Ozberk wrote that based on the damage assessments from social media it was clear that Russiann forces were unpreapred to deal with the small, swift targets.

“The footage suggests that the Russian units (probably helicopters) were trying to engage the USVs with guns, but, it’s not easy to hit such a small and fast boat with classical weapons,” Ozberk wrote.
“ In future conflicts, it will be even more difficult for ships that are not equipped with effective protection and survival systems, and drone swarms will be a major problem for large combat ships.”

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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