Ukraine: Russia attacks the Port of Izmail on the Danube delta
Russia is bombing Ukrainian ports less than 200 metres from the Romanian border, a NATO member, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reported.
Vladimir Putin has overseen multiple waves of strikes against Ukrainian grain ports over the past fortnight after withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of grain have been destroyed in the process, as well as critical and civilian infrastructure.
But while the Russian forces have been using cruise missiles to attack areas such as Odessa, they have carried out strikes further afield with smaller drones “less likely to risk escalation” from other countries, the MoD has claimed.
On Wednesday, in the early hours, the Ukrainian port of Izmail, on the river Danube, which demarcates the border with Romania, was bombed using Iranian-produced kamikaze drones.
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In its latest intelligence report, the MoD wrote: “In the last two weeks, Russia has conducted several waves of strikes against Ukrainian ports on the Danube River using Iranian-produced one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAVs).
“It is highly likely attempting to coerce international shipping into stopping trading via the ports.
“OWA UAVs have struck targets as close as 200 metres from the Romanian border, suggesting that Russia has evolved its risk appetite for conducting strikes near NATO territory.
“There is a realistic possibility that Russia is using OWA UAVs to strike this area in the belief they are less likely to risk escalation than cruise missiles: Russia likely considers them as acceptably accurate, and they have much smaller warheads than cruise missiles.”
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The port of Izmail is located towards the southwesterly tip of Ukraine, tucked behind the port of Odessa, which has been heavily attacked by Russia in recent weeks.
As Russia looks to blockade the Black Sea by obstructing the grain corridor, Ukraine may look to its western partners nearby to push through their grain using alternate routes.
The MoD’s comments suggest that Russia is trying to dissuade countries such as Romania from involving themselves by targeting areas so close to the border.
Using drones instead of missiles, which are known to frequently stray from their intended target, allows them to test the country without testing the boundaries.
It comes as a major Russian port has been hit by explosions in what is suspected to be a Ukrainian response-in-kind, footage showed.
The port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea is crucial to Russia’s exporting business but in the early hours of the morning, it was forced to temporarily suspend any movement of ships.
Russia has accused Ukraine of using drones to target the port. Footage caught by local state media showed an explosion just off the coast on Friday morning.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had repelled the Ukrainian attack on its naval base there with two sea drones but footage released a few hours later showed a Ropucha-class Russian landing ship, believed to be Olenegorski Gornjak, being towed back to shore while it was capsizing.
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