By Andrew Osborn
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday suggested Moscow would launch more strikes against Ukrainian ports in response to Kyiv’s attacks on Russian ships in the Black Sea, and threatened to hand Ukraine “an ecological catastrophe”.
Medvedev, who is deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, a body chaired by President Vladimir Putin, spoke after Ukrainian sea drone attacks on a Russian warship in the port of Novorossiysk, and against a tanker near Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Putin chaired a meeting of the Security Council on Friday which Medvedev attended following the attack on Novorossiysk, in which the Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian Navy landing ship, was reported to have been badly damaged.
“Scumbags and freaks understand only cruelty and force. Apparently, the strikes on Odesa, Izmail, and other places were not enough for them,” Medvedev said in a post on his official social media accounts.
Russia has in recent weeks targeted the Black Sea port of Odesa, where the Ukrainian Navy is headquartered, and Izmail, Ukraine’s main inland port across the Danube River from Romania, damaging port infrastructure and grain facilities.
Moscow, which last month withdrew from a deal that had allowed Ukraine to safely export its grain via the Black Sea, began the port attacks after a Ukrainian strike on the bridge which links Russia with Crimea, killing the parents of a teenage girl and causing serious damage.
The United Nations and some Western and African countries have urged Russia to return to the grain deal, something Moscow has said it will only do if and when an agreement designed to facilitate the export of Russian grain and fertilisers is implemented.
Medvedev suggested retaliatory Russian strikes against Ukraine for its sea drone attacks could end any chances of reviving the grain deal.
“If the Kyiv scum want to create an ecological disaster in the Black Sea, they should get one on the part of their territory that will soon fall to Poland and that will stink for centuries after that,” said Medvedev.
“That will be the final judgement for them on the grain deal.”
It was not clear what kind of ecological disaster Medvedev was referring to. Top Russian security officials have suggested, without providing evidence, that Polish troops will be deployed to western Ukraine at some point, while Russia will hold on to and expand the territory it has unilaterally annexed in the south and east of Ukraine.
Kyiv, which is carrying out a counteroffensive, says it remains committed to retaking all of its territory, including Crimea.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by David Holmes)