(FreedomBeacon.com)- The UK’s Ministry of Defense believes Russia will try to take out Ukraine’s anti-ship capabilities which it believes are hampering Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
After Russia launched a cruise missile strike on the port city of Odesa on Saturday only hours after Moscow and Kyiv agreed on a deal to allow the passage of Ukrainian grain, Russia’s defense ministry said the strikes had destroyed a Ukrainian military vessel and US-supplied weapons. However, there has been no confirmation of Moscow’s claim.
Tuesday, UK defense officials said the Kremlin “almost certainly” believes Ukrainian anti-ship missiles are a significant threat that is “limiting the effectiveness of their Black Sea Fleet” and undermining the overall invasion plan since Russia can’t “realistically attempt an amphibious assault” to seize the vital port city of Odesa.
UK defense officials added in Tuesday’s assessment that Moscow will continue prioritizing its efforts to “degrade and destroy Ukraine’s anti-ship capability.” However, its ability to hit these targets may be “routinely undermined by dated intelligence, poor planning, and a top-down approach to operations.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday’s strikes on Odesa show that Moscow can’t be trusted to keep its word.
Even so, according to Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, regardless of the strikes, the first vessels containing Ukrainian grain are expected to leave ports on the Black Sea “within days” provided both sides “guarantee security.”
On Friday, Reuters reported that Ukraine is ready to begin shipping grain from two Black Sea ports under the UN-brokered agreement, though Oleksandr Kubrakov has not said what day the first shipment will sail.
Kubrakov told reporters in Odesa on Friday that the 17 vessels that have been trapped by the Russian blockade for five months are loaded with grain and ready to go, and another ship was being loaded on Friday.
Kubrakov expected confirmation from the UN on Friday on the proposed corridor the ships will use through the Black Sea and was hopeful the first ships would be leaving port before the end of the week.