NATO to enhance surveillance in Black Sea region




 Saint-Kitts-and-Nevis-flagged bulker TK Majestic, carrying grain under the U.N.’s Black Sea Grain Initiative, waits in the southern anchorage of the Bosporus in Istanbul, Türkiye, July 15, 2023. (Reuters File Photo)

NATO announced that it would boost surveillance of the Black Sea area after Russia’s withdrawal from the groundbreaking grain deal that facilitated the passage of grain exports through the region.

The announcement came Wednesday after a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, which was launched at a NATO summit in Lithuania earlier this month to coordinate cooperation between the military alliance and Kyiv.

“Allies and Ukraine strongly condemned Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal and its deliberate attempts to stop Ukraine’s agricultural exports on which hundreds of millions of people worldwide depend. … NATO and allies are stepping up surveillance and reconnaissance in the Black Sea region, including with maritime patrol aircraft and drones,” read the NATO statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Black Sea Grain Initiative would be suspended until demands to get Russian food and fertilizer to the world are met.

The NATO statement criticized Moscow’s declaration that parts of the Black Sea’s international waters were “temporarily unsafe” for navigation.

“Allies noted that Russia’s new warning area in the Black Sea, within Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone, has created new risks for miscalculation and escalation, as well as serious impediments to freedom of navigation,” the NATO statement said.

The suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative marks the end of an accord that the U.N. and Türkiye brokered last summer to allow shipments of food

Last week, Russia halted the breakthrough wartime deal that allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices have pushed more people into poverty.

The Kremlin doubled down on terminating the grain deal by attacking Ukrainian ports and declaring wide areas of the Black Sea unsafe for shipping.

By Associated Press

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