Russia is shelling Ukraine’s grain infrastructure and threatening to escalate in the Black Sea in order to force concessions from the West and underline the Kremlin’s importance in the grain deal, the War Research Institute estimates in a Thursday analysis. Experts point out that Russia wants to set Ukraine and the countries of Central Europe at odds.
“It’s most likely part of an effort to exploit the withdrawal Russia from the grain agreement and the enforcement of broad concessions from the West,” writes the American Institute for War Research (ISW) in its latest report, which notes, among others, the intensification of attacks on ports and grain infrastructure Ukraine in recent days.
The ISW notes that when commenting Moscow’s withdrawal from the grain agreement on the Black Sea, Vladimir Putin as a condition, he withdrawal of sanctions, consent to the export of Russian grain and fertilizers. “The Kremlin probably sees the Black Sea Grain Initiative as one of the few remaining tools of influence towards the West and withdrew from this agreement to obtain these concessions,” the think tank from the USA.
According to the ISW, the Kremlin is trying to create a “feeling of urgency” around Russia’s return to the deal by stepping up attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and threatening to attack civilian ships in the Black Sea.
“It is not clear to what extent Russian forces are ready to attack civilian ships, although the Kremlin probably hopes that this declaration will have a chilling effect on naval activity in the Black Sea and create conditions similar to the complete blockade of Ukrainian ports in the region at the beginning of a full-scale invasion,” the analysts said.
ISW: Russia’s actions may turn out to be counterproductive
However, these actions by Russia may be counterproductive and harm supplies to countries that Moscow considers its “target audience”.
The Russians may also aim to destroy the Ukrainian infrastructure before renegotiating the grain agreement in order to prevent its further use and create conditions for the export of grain from the occupied territories.
In addition, according to ISW, Moscow is probably trying to set Ukraine and the countries of Central Europe at odds, because the land route is an alternative to sea export routes. Five countries – Poland, HungaryRomania, Slovakia and Bulgaria – appealed to the EU to extend the ban on Ukrainian grain imports.
Main photo source: EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY