Robin Horsfall, June 9
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia will allow grain ships to leave Odesa if Ukraine removes the sea mines. Mr Lavrov also denies that Russian soldiers are looting everything from household goods to national food supplies from areas of conflict. Mr Lavrov still claims that his war is a ‘Special military operation to denazify Ukraine’.
Lavrov is a liar and will say and do absolutely anything to anyone to gain an advantage over Ukraine.
The sea mines were laid to seal off Odesa in March but both sides deny laying them. The mines keep Russia out, but like all walls they also keep Ukraine in. Only the side who laid them knows where they are (or should know). There were reports of mines breaking from their moorings and washing out to sea to threaten all shipping. If a neutral merchant ship is sunk both sides will deny responsibility.
If Ukraine removes the mines Russia will say they must have laid them.
If mines are removed to allow ships to transport food for Africa it opens the gates of Odesa to Russian submarines and their cruise missiles. They can travel beneath or behind merchant ships inside the minefield and cause havoc to the land defences. Surface ships are less of a threat due to the Neptune and Harpoon missiles that await them but if the missile defences are disrupted an amphibious landing might just become possible.
To open the gates of Odesa requires a great deal more than a Lavrov promise. It requires naval security than can prevent Russia from taking advantage. This would mean having the right to open fire on any threats to a convoy. That also means more warships in the Black Sea and more chance of direct conflict between Russia and the protecting forces.
If Ukraine refuses to clear the mines Lavrov will blame Ukraine for the blockade. If they clear the mines they make themselves vulnerable to attack.
In spite of the best efforts of Presidents Macron and Erdogan to keep communications open there is no reason for Ukraine or anyone else to believe that Russia will act in good faith, in fact all evidence is to the contrary. The Russian government deals in lies and deception. They not only use plausible deniability they use unplausible deniability too.
The only way that grain can be shipped from Odesa is with merchant convoys that are heavily protected by a strong naval force. The only way to defeat Lavrov’s lies is with force – trust left the party a long time ago.
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