March 1, 2024

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Russia: Attack on warship guarding Black Sea pipelines by Ukraine's unmanned vessels

Russia: Attack on warship guarding Black Sea pipelines by Ukraine’s unmanned vessels

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the Russian warship Ivan Horse was unsuccessfully attacked early in the morning by three unmanned Ukrainian speedboats in the Black Sea near the Bosphorus Strait.

In a statement posted on Telegram, the ministry said the warship was protecting the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines – which transport gas from Russia to Turkey, partly through the Black Sea – and “continues to perform its duties”.

The statement is likely to raise tensions in the Black Sea, where Russia only last week agreed, a day before a deadline set by itself, to extend an agreement allowing Ukraine to export grain safely from its seaports.

No comment was immediately available from Kiev.

The ministry cited the attack as a justification for Russia to expand measures to defend its pipelines, though no ramifications for the safety of grain ships were mentioned.

Unexplained explosions last September destroyed Nord Stream 1 and 2, transporting gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Despite allowing the grain initiative to continue for another two months, Russia continues to complain that the West is not fulfilling its side of the bargain by removing obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertilizer.

Ukraine accused Russia on Tuesday of cutting the Ukrainian port of Pivdenye, known in Russian as Yuzhny, from the deal as Russia complained it could not export ammonia through a pipeline to Pivdenye.

Turkey is one of the sponsors of the Black Sea grain deal, and it has refused to follow the West in imposing economic sanctions on Russia.

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After losing use of the Baltic Sea pipelines, Russia is keen for Turkey to become more of a hub for Russian energy exports.

TurkStream carries gas west from Russia’s Taman Peninsula across the width of the Black Sea to a point west of the Bosphorus Strait on Turkey’s European coast.

However, the blue current crosses the eastern Black Sea from north to south, making landfall in the Turkish port of Samsun, about 700 kilometers east of the Bosphorus by sea.

Ivan Horse is a medium reconnaissance ship launched in 2013. The Ministry of Defense said that all naval drones were “destroyed by fire of the standard armament of a Russian ship 140 kilometers northeast of the Bosphorus.”

Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Kevin Levy

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