Russia may launch operation in Transnistria to block sea corridor from Ukraine — ISW
The Kremlin may resume efforts to use unrecognized Transnistria to create instability in Moldova and undermine Ukraine's grain exports along the western Black Sea coast
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) shared the information.
It noted that at the end of 2023, a record 36 million metric tons of grain were shipped in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta. About 40% of these supplies were Ukrainian grain.
Earlier, ISW experts estimated that Ukrainian strikes on Black Sea Fleet ships forced the Russian Navy to change its operations models and move some vessels away from its main base in occupied Sevastopol, western Crimea.
The destruction and damage to the Black Sea Fleet vessels also allowed Kyiv and its partners to maximize the use of the Black Sea Grain Corridor. International support for this project continues to grow, despite Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and threats to block its activities by force.
"The Kremlin may view a false flag operation in Transnistria as an alternative way to deter countries from participating in Ukraine’s grain corridor despite Russia’s weakened presence in the western Black Sea," the ISW report says.
Information on the "grain corridor"
On 17 July, Russia announced the termination of the grain deal. In response, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that it was necessary to continue using the grain corridor even despite Russia's withdrawal from the agreement.
On August 4, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov said that Ukraine would send ships with its own grain to wherever it deems necessary and would not ask anyone for permission.
On August 10, the Ukrainian Navy announced a temporary humanitarian corridor for merchant ships sailing to and from Ukrainian ports.
On August 12, Ukraine opened the registration of merchant ships and their owners who are ready to use temporary routes to Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.
On August 16, the first vessel left the port of Odesa after Russia announced that it would terminate the grain deal on July 16, 2023.
On August 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. The politicians discussed, among other things, the grain deal. Fidan stated that Ankara sees "no alternative" to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the original grain deal that Ukraine and Russia concluded with the mediation of the UN and Turkey.
On September 4, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressed hope that an agreement on the Black Sea Grain Initiative would be reached in a short time.
On September 16, the blocked bulk carrier PUMA (Cayman Islands) left the Odesa seaport. The vessel was loaded with 16,000 tons of metal and 14,000 tons of rapeseed.
On the same day, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said that the first civilian ships had confirmed their readiness to use the route to the Chornomorsk port to load almost 20,000 tons of wheat for Africa and Asia.
On September 16, Kubrakov said that after Russia withdrew from the grain deal, the occupiers struck Ukraine's ports 118 times. About a third of the infrastructure was damaged or destroyed.
On September 19, the vessel RESILIENT AFRICA left Odesa's Chornomorsk port via a temporary corridor: it was loaded with 3,000 tons of wheat.
On October 26, there were reports that the grain corridor had allegedly been temporarily suspended, but Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure denied the rumors, noting that Ukrainian ports continue to handle ships.
As of mid-November 2023, 100 vessels had sailed through the temporary grain corridor in the Black Sea.
On January 8, reports indicated that since the start of the temporary grain corridor in August 2023, 15 million tons of grain have been exported from Ukraine, 40% of which went to China and Egypt.