Soldiers of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Donetsk People’s Republic work to defuse a Ukrainian mine in an area of the seaport of Mariupol (Ukraine), April 29, 2022. AP
Naval operations off Odessa, deliveries of anti-ship weapons or land bypass maneuvers: Ukraine and its allies are using every means possible to break through the naval blockade in the Black Sea imposed by Russia. One of the challenges is to contain the risk of a global food crisis or even famine in countries like Egypt or Lebanon, which are most dependent on grain exports from Ukraine’s breadbasket.
Hurry up. “Millions of people around the world will die because ports are blocked,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program on Thursday, May 19. According to him, Ukrainian ports must be operational within the next sixty days to avoid a global crisis. Ukraine is one of the world’s top agricultural exporters, providing around 12% of grain and half of all sunflower oil consumed on earth.
Read also article reserved for our subscribers War in Ukraine: the Middle East and Africa worried about the supply of wheat
First option: The United States and some of its allies are considering arming Ukraine so that it can break through the naval blockade imposed by Russia several weeks before the start of its invasion. On Thursday, the Reuters agency said Washington was hesitating between America’s Harpoon missile and Norway’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM). “Ukraine has no operational fleet left and the country is short on Neptune missiles [antinavires de conception ukrainienne] to neutralize the 30 Russian warships capable of launching missiles,” says Andrii Ryzhenko, retired captain of the Ukrainian Naval Forces and president of the Ukrainian Institute of Law and Safety at Sea. For this expert, the best solution is to use Harpoon or NSM missiles .
“Your deployment in the Ukraine seems difficult to me for reasons of system availability, delivery, staff training; at best one could imagine the truck version of the NSM, but I doubt enough were produced; We could also envision a sea-sea Harpoon modification in a land-sea version, but that would undoubtedly require retired personnel and American volunteers,” believes Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix, naval analyst and historian, co-author of Flottes de Combat ( Editions Ouest-France, 2018).
The course of an Allied military operation is also under discussion. “Equipment shipments will not be enough to secure grain export convoys,” said one Ukrainian diplomat, “hence the idea of launching an international naval operation, either under British aegis or under NATO guidance.” According to him, the aim would be to secure shipping corridors under Ukrainian control leaving Odessa in order to leave the waters controlled by Russia.
You still have 51.83% of this article to read. The following is for subscribers only.