The Black Sea has once again become the backdrop for escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, as a recent drone strike by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) targeted a Russian oil tanker in the Kerch Strait. The drone attack carried out jointly with the Ukrainian Navy, comes as the latest in a series of incidents that have heightened hostilities between the two nations. This article delves into the events leading up to this week’s strike, explores the impact of the ongoing conflict on regional security and trade, and sheds light on the significance of sea drones in Ukraine’s defense strategy.

A Brief History of Tensions in the Black Sea

The Black Sea region has been a hotbed of geopolitical tensions, with Russia and Ukraine asserting their claims over territorial waters and maritime routes. In April 2022, Ukraine claimed responsibility for downing Russia’s flagship guided-missile cruiser Moskva, using anti-ship cruise missiles. This incident occurred shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, further fueling hostilities between the two countries.

Exiting the Deal and Targeting Trade

Adding to the tensions, Russia exited a trade deal last month that had previously allowed Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea. This move by Moscow sparked economic concerns for Ukraine, prompting an increasingly aggressive stance against Russian assets in the region.

“Only upon receipt of concrete results, and not promises and assurances, will Russia be ready to consider restoring the deal,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in July, cited from Reuters.

The Drone Strike on the Russian Tanker

In response to Russia’s actions and continuing their more assertive approach, Ukraine’s SBU carried out a successful drone strike on the Russian oil tanker ‘SIG’ in the Kerch Strait. The strike, which occurred late Friday evening, targeted a vessel known for supplying jet fuel to Russian forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The ship was reportedly well-loaded with fuel, making the resulting explosion visible from afar.