Ukraine foiled Russian missile attack on civilian grain ship, say British officials

Ukraine foiled Russian missile attack on civilian grain ship, say British officials

Russia fired cruise missiles against a civilian cargo ship in the Black Sea last month, but Ukrainian air defense forces thwarted the attack, British military officials said Monday.

The intended target of the Aug. 24 missile strike was a Liberian-flagged cargo ship docked in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on the Black Sea. The attack was launched from a missile carrier that is part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, U.K. defense officials said.

“Thanks to Ukraine’s air defense, the attack on the civilian ship failed. Not one of the Kalibr missiles reached its intended target,” the British Defense Ministry said in a statement. “This is a clear demonstration of Russia’s continuing attempts to choke Ukraine’s economy, and President [Vladimir] Putin’s disregard for the lives of civilians and the interests of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.”

Russia has systematically targeted Ukrainian port facilities and other civilian infrastructure since July. The attacks have destroyed almost 300,000 tons of grain, which U.K. officials said is enough to feed more than 1 million people for a year and more than the total Russia promised to donate to countries in Africa.

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

Kyiv had provided more than half of the wheat for the U.N.’s World Food Program before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. It was feeding 400 million people worldwide and accounted for about 10% of the world’s supply of wheat, corn and barley, British officials said.