The famous diplomat and former special representative of the US State Department for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, writes in his column that it is time to stop reckoning with Russia's whims in the Black Sea, which in essence are ordinary piracy. And Western countries should help Ukraine ensure free shipping to its ports.
The Initiative for the Study of Russian Piracy publishes the opinion of an American diplomat.
By any reasonable definition of the word, Russia’s Black Sea blockade of maritime trade with Ukraine equates to piracy, or at least the threat of it. The international community’s response has been dismal. By accepting Russia’s implicit threats to sink foreign-flagged merchant vessels in international waters, we have allowed the Kremlin to successfully blackmail the world.
That blackmail continues. Threats to maintain a Russian boot on the neck of food exports that supply the world, unless new concessions are made, is a constant theme for Russian spokesmen. On May 29, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “If everything remains as it is, and apparently it will, then it will be necessary to proceed from the fact that it [the deal] is no longer functioning.”
The grain deal gives Russia an unprecedented role in overseeing Black Sea shipping, despite the fact it has a legal claim to only 10% of the Black Sea coastline and is a party to the Montreux Convention, which was designed to assure freedom of commerce through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits. The Convention assigns Turkey — not Russia — the role of ensuring that freedom of navigation is unimpaired.