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Kyiv launched a naval drone attack on a Russian tanker in the Black Sea, signaling an imminent escalation in the Russian-Ukraine war. The attack damaged the engine room of the tanker that was carrying oil and fuel for Russia’s military operations in Syria. Even though the crew escaped unharmed, the attack still heightened the already strained relations between the two countries.
So why is the Black Sea so important?
The Black Sea region has crucial strategic importance for both nations as it links them to key markets and resources in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It also contains the Crimean Peninsula, which was seized from Ukraine in 2014 by Russia.
Ukraine has been working hard to reclaim its sovereignty over its territorial waters in the Black Sea. A main area of interest is the Kerch Strait that Russia has constructed a bridge over, which Ukraine deems illegal and has repeatedly attacked it with drone strikes. The Kerch Strait joins the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, making it strategically important.
According to a report made by Politico News, this naval drone attack on the Russian oil tanker is only the latest in a series of provocations performed by Ukraine, to which Russia responded by withdrawing from a U.N.-brokered initiative to regulate grain trade in the Black Sea and launching missile strikes on Ukrainian ports and grain silos.
Ukraine reportedly declared that Russian vessels are no longer safe in the Black Sea, and Kyiv announced a “war risk area” around Russian ports on the Black Sea, warning of possible attacks.
Vasyl Malyuk, Ukraine’s Security Service chief, has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Crimean Bridge and hinted at upcoming similar attacks, saying that such operations are legal and effective against the enemy and that Ukraine will defeat Russia in this war.
Russia on the other hand has declared Ukraine’s actions as aggressive and provocative and has accused Kyiv of violating international law and norms. Russia has further warned that it will defend its interests and security in the Black Sea region with all necessary means.