A file picture taken during a visit to Mariupol organized by the Russian military shows Russian warship guards in the Azov Sea behind a sunken Ukrainian ship on the cargo sea port of Mariupol, Ukraine, 29 April 2022. EFE-EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY

Russia fires warning shots at cargo vessel headed towards Ukraine’s port

Moscow, Aug 13 (EFE).- A Russian warship forced a dry cargo ship to halt in the southwestern Black Sea by firing warning shots after the vessel allegedly ignored naval signals to stop.

A statement from the defense ministry indicated that the patrol vessel Vasily Bykov signaled the captain of the Palau-flagged cargo ship, Sukru Okan, to halt for inspection.

However, the captain failed to comply, prompting the Russian military to fire automatic weapons, effectively forcing the ship to stop.

The cargo vessel was en route to Izmail port, nearly 100 km inland from the Danube River’s mouth.

“To forcibly stop the vessel, warning shots were fired from automatic weapons,” the Russian defense ministry said.

With the assistance of a Ka-29 helicopter, Russian military personnel boarded the cargo ship.

“After the inspection team completed its onboard tasks, the Sukru Okan resumed its journey to the port of Izmail,” the defense ministry said.

The statement said the patrol boats of the Russian Black Sea Fleet continued their work in the areas.

Russia warned on July 19 – just two days after withdrawing from a grain trade agreement – that it would treat all vessels bound for Ukrainian ports via the Black Sea as carriers of military cargo and, consequently, as potential war targets.

Following Moscow’s withdrawal from the grain export agreement, Izmail, which can accommodate large cargo ships, has emerged as a crucial gateway to Ukraine.

The now-defunct agreement permitted Russia to operate within three Ukrainian ports along the Black Sea.

On Aug. 2, Kyiv accused Russia of bombing a grain silo in Izmail, resulting in the destruction of significant reserves.

Russia has repeatedly expressed its willingness to return to the agreement, provided its concerns about food and fertilizer exports are effectively addressed.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed on Sunday to have successfully intercepted and destroyed three drones originating from Ukraine through its air defense systems.

“A drone over the Belgorod region was detected and eliminated by Russian air defenses,” a statement from the defense ministry said, adding that no damage was incurred.

The first unmanned aerial vehicle was detected around 11 a.m., seven hours after a similar incident in the same region.

The ministry confirmed that a third drone had been downed as it flew over the Kursk border region at 11.30 a.m. EFE