Russian President Putin claimed today in a press conference that the civilian grain corridor from Ukraine to international buyers was used as a guise to insert unmanned surface vehicles in the vicinity of Sevastopol on October 29th, 2022. In the video he says “The attack that was undertaken by Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet, drones partially went along the humanitarian corridor. This creates a threat”. He then goes on to say that he has not withdrawn from the agreement, but rather suspended it.
During the attack, two surface combatants of the Black Sea Fleet, the Frigate Admiral Makarov and Minesweeper Ivan Golubets sustained “light damage”. Within 12 hours, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that they would no longer ensure the security of civilian ships leaving Ukraine. However, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN responded that they will continue to send ships despite Russia’s withdrawal from the July deal.
Now, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has announced that Russia will only entertain negotiations on reentering the deal if Turkey provides assurances that Ukraine will not use the civilian corridor for military purposes. However, it has not been confirmed that the corridor was even used in the first place. Even the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Ukrainian and UK operators of these drones are stationed in Mykolaiv.
Despite these demands, a convoy of 14 grain ships did leave Odesa today and thus far have not been interdicted by the Black Sea Fleet, despite threats made that the Fleet retains the right to stop and seize any vessels in an active war zone.