The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Russia takes a dangerous turn in its war on Ukraine

Russia has entered a dangerous new phase of its war against Ukraine since it exited the Black Sea grain deal earlier this month, weaponizing global food exports, stepping up attacks on Ukrainian ports and cities and increasing the risk of spillover into NATO countries.

Russia’s escalation is unlikely to deter the U.S. and allies from following through on delivering F-16 fighter jets and long-range missiles to Ukraine in the coming months, which Moscow has repeatedly warned against.

But it comes as Ukraine is struggling to make major gains in its grinding counteroffensive, and Russia’s strategy appears aimed at straining U.S. and European partners who have provided billions in assistance to Ukraine over the course of 16 months.

“Certainly, it’s an escalation,” said Thomas Graham, a distinguished fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and who served as a senior director for Russia on the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush.

“Russia, I think, is clearly making an effort to continue to deepen the damage to the Ukrainian economy,” he added. “It has implications for Ukraine’s ability to continue the war effort, it raises concerns about attacks on NATO territory … so it’s a reason to be concerned.”

Since pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal July 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin has targeted attacks on Ukraine’s southern city of Odesa, damaging the seaport and grain storage facilities and hitting residential and historical buildings, including an Orthodox cathedral.

The grain deal, negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey, allowed for the export of Ukrainian grain through a Russian blockade on the Black Sea, clearing the way for 33 million metric tons of foodstuffs to move across the world, largely to developing countries, since it took effect in July 2022.

But now, Putin is warning he views commercial ships in the Black Sea as legitimate military targets. The U.S. and the United Kingdom are warning Russia is plotting “false flag operations,” covertly mining the sea with the purpose of blaming Ukraine for any explosions.

Read more at The Hill

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.


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