Russia ‘laying sea mines to destroy civilian ships’ in Black Sea

Russia may be laying sea mines in the Black Sea to destroy cargo ships heading to and from Ukrainian ports, according to declassified intelligence.

The Foreign Office said Moscow wanted to damage Ukraine’s economy by halting its grain exports, but would seek to blame the sinking of any civilian vessels on Kyiv.

It has previously warned Russia’s the Black Sea Fleet fired cruise missiles on a Liberian-flagged cargo ship in August, which were intercepted by Ukraine’s air defences.

The news comes as Ukraine attempts to ramp up its use of a Black Sea corridor through Nato waters. Yesterday, it said a dozen vessels were ready to head to its ports, while another 10 were ready to leave.

Russia has also sought to pressure Ukrainian ports by attacking with drones and missiles, last night attacking infrastructure in the southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions.

According to Foreign Office estimates, Moscow has damaged 130 port facilities and destroyed 300,000 tonnes of grain since withdrawing from the Black Sea export deal and enforcing a de facto blockade.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Russia’s pernicious targeting of civilian shipping in the Black Sea demonstrates Putin’s total disregard for civilian lives and the needs of the world’s most vulnerable.”

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