Russia fires warning shots at cargo ship in Black Sea

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A Russian warship fired warning shots at a merchant ship moving across the southwestern Black Sea on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow.

Around 6:40 a.m. Moscow time on Sunday, the Russian patrol boat Vasily Bykov fired a warning with “automatic small arms” on the Palau-flagged cargo vessel Sukru Okan due to the ship’s failure to reply to a request to carry out an inspection, according to a statement published on ministry’s website. The ministry said that the ship was heading toward the port of Izmail in Ukraine.

The ship stopped and allowed for a Russian “inspection team” to board and carry out checks, before proceeding to its destination, the ministry said. According to shipping data platform Vessel Finder, the Sukru Okan is currently en route for the Romanian port of Sulina.

The incident comes weeks after Russia pulled out of the U.N.-backed grain deal that allowed Ukraine to export wheat and other produce via the Black Sea. Since leaving the initiative, Russia has made it clear that it regards all vessels making their way to Ukraine as potentially hostile and carrying materiel.

The Defense Ministry also said that Russian air defenses shot down at least four Ukrainian drones over western regions of Russia on Sunday, Reuters reported. Three drones were shot down over Belgorod region and another over the Kursk region, it said.