The UK has accused Russia of targeting a cargo ship in the Black Sea with multiple missiles on 24 August.

The missiles, which included 2 Kalibr missiles fired from a Black Sea Fleet missile carrier, were successfully shot down by Ukraine’s forces on 24 August, the UK´s foreign, commonwealth & development office and the Rt Hon James Cleverly MP said today.

British intelligence shows “that an intended target was a Liberian-flagged cargo ship berthed in the port.”

This attack followed US government warnings that the Russian military may launch attacks against civilian shipping in the Black Sea, the foreign office notes.

“Thanks to Ukraine’s air defence, the attack on the civilian ship failed. Not one of the Kalibr missiles reached its intended target.”

Britain claims that this is a clear demonstration of Russia’s continuing attempts to choke Ukraine’s economy, and President Putin’s disregard for the lives of civilians and the interests of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Putin is trying to win a war he will not win, and these attacks show just how desperate he is. In targeting cargo ships and Ukrainian infrastructure, Russia is hurting the rest of the world.”

In July, the Foreign Secretary said the UK believed Russia may target civilian ships in the Black Sea. 

The US has observed Russia laying more sea mines around Ukrainian ports, and footage showing the detonation of a sea mine in July.

Since July, Russia has systematically targeted Ukrainian port and civilian infrastructure. The attacks have so far destroyed 280,000 tonnes of grain – enough to feed over 1 million people for a year, and more than the total Russia promised to donate to African countries.

In accordance with UK´s foreign office, Russia since its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, has damaged 26 port infrastructure facilities in Odesa, Chornomorsk and Reni, destroyed 280,000 tonnes of grain – more than the total amount Russia promised to donate to African states, and enough to feed over 1 million people for a year, whilst up to 24 million tonnes of foodstuffs from Ukraine may now not reach global markets over the coming year.

Before Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was feeding 400 million people worldwide and accounted for 8 to 10% of global wheat exports and 10 to 12% of corn and barley exports.

Ukraine provided over 50% of the wheat for the World Food Programme in 2022. Without the black sea grain initiative (BSGI) the World Food Programme (WFP) will have to replace this with more expensive or lower quality wheat.