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Russian missiles targeted civilian cargoship last month: UK government

Citing new intelligence, UK claims that the missiles intercepted by Ukraine’s defenses were to hit a Liberia-flagged cargo vessel berthed at port

Attack is said to be part of a broader pattern of Moscow’s aggression against civilian vessels and facilities since withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal in July

NEW intelligence indicates the Russian military specifically targeted a civilian cargoship in the Black Sea on August 24, according to the UK government.

The attack included two Kalibr cruise missiles launched from a Russian warship. Ukraine’s defenses successfully intercepted the missiles before they could strike the Liberia-flagged cargo vessel berthed at port.

The attempted strike follows the US warnings in recent weeks of potential Russian assaults on commercial shipping in the region. It demonstrates Moscow’s efforts to cripple Ukraine’s economy despite international condemnation, said a statement.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the failed attack highlights the increasing desperation of President Putin’s flailing war in Ukraine. “In targeting cargoships and Ukrainian infrastructure, Russia is hurting the rest of the world,” he said.

The assault is said to be part of a broader pattern of Russian aggression against civilian vessels and facilities since withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July.

The UK government had warned earlier this year that Russia may begin targeting civilian ships in the Black Sea. The US has observed Russia laying additional naval mines around Ukrainian ports, and footage showed a mine detonating near a merchant ship in July.

Since then, Russia has systematically struck Ukrainian ports, damaging 26 facilities in Odesa, Chornomorsk and Reni. The attacks have destroyed more than 280,000 tonnes of grain, enough to feed more than 1m people for a year, according to UK officials.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February, Ukraine supplied over 50% of the wheat for the United Nations World Food Programme to relieve hunger globally, they added. Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative means more expensive replacement sources will now be required.

The pattern of aggression against civilian vessels and infrastructure lays bare Putin’s intent to weaponize the global food supply, said the statement. But Ukraine’s robust defenses, aided by advanced weapons from allies, prevented the latest missiles from hitting their civilian target.

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