New intelligence shows the intended target of a Russian missile attack in the Black Sea was a cargo ship.

Intelligence shows that the Russian military targeted a cargo ship in the Black Sea with multiple missiles on 24 August. The missiles, which included 2 Kalibr missiles fired from a Black Sea Fleet missile carrier, were successfully shot down by Ukraine’s forces on 24 August.

Intelligence shows that an intended target was a Liberian-flagged cargo ship berthed in the port. This attack followed US government warnings that the Russian military may launch attacks against civilian shipping in the Black Sea. Thanks to Ukraine’s air defence, the attack on the civilian ship failed. Not one of the Kalibr missiles reached its intended target.

Despite its failure, this is a clear demonstration of Russia’s continuing attempts to choke Ukraine’s economy, and President Putin’s disregard for the lives of civilians and the interests of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

This is part of a pattern of Russian aggression in the Black Sea.  In July, the Foreign Secretary said the UK believed Russia may target civilian ships in the Black Sea.  The US has observed Russia laying more sea mines around Ukrainian ports, and footage showing the detonation of a sea mine in July.

Since July, Russia has systematically targeted Ukrainian port and civilian infrastructure.  The attacks have so far destroyed 280,000 tonnes of grain – enough to feed over 1 million people for a year, and more than the total Russia promised to donate to African countries.

Russia has stopped even attempting to justify that these attacks are against legitimate military targets and is cynically targeting civilian infrastructure. President Putin’s intentions are clear for all to see.  This is a brutal attempt to choke the Ukrainian economy.

While the UK and our partners continue to do all we can to ensure Ukraine’s exports reach those who need it most, this pattern of deliberately targeted attacks in the Black Sea by Russia demonstrates President Putin’s willingness to weaponise food and innocent trade at the expense of the rest of the world as they block food from reaching world markets.

Since its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia has:

damaged 26 port infrastructure facilities in Odesa, Chornomorsk and Reni

destroyed 280,000 tonnes of grain – more than the total amount Russia promised to donate to African states, and enough to feed over 1 million people for a year

because of Russia’s decision to withdraw, up to 24 million tonnes of foodstuffs from Ukraine may now not reach global markets over the coming year

before Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was feeding 400 million people worldwide and accounted for 8 to 10% of global wheat exports and 10 to 12% of corn and barley exports.

Ukraine provided over 50% of the wheat for the World Food Programme in 2022 – without the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) the World Food Programme (WFP) will have to replace this with more expensive or lower quality wheat

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: Putin is trying to win a war he will not win, and these attacks show just how desperate he is. In targeting cargo ships and Ukrainian infrastructure, Russia is hurting the rest of the world.