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Odesa port facilities damaged by Russian strike: Ukraine

Odesa port facilities damaged by Russian strike: Ukraine
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A Russian overnight strike damaged port infrastructure facilities in southern Ukraine‘s Odesa, Kyiv’s military said on Tuesday, hours after Moscow refused to extend a deal allowing the safe export of grain from the region.

Six Kalibr missiles launched towards Odesa and 21 Iran-built attack drones approaching Odesa region were “destroyed” by air defences, Ukraine’s military southern command said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the debris of the downed missiles and the blast wave from the downing damaged the port infrastructure facilities and several private homes,” the southern command said.

Ukraine’s air force said a total of 31 drones were downed across the country out of 36 launched by Russia overnight.

The Odesa region is home to maritime terminals that were key to the grain export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv that enabled the shipment of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain in the past year.

An “industrial facility” in the southern port city of Mykolaiv was also hit in the overnight attack according to local governor Vitaliy Kim.

A fire had subsequently broken out before being extinguished, he said on Telegram, adding there were no casualties.

Moscow’s invasion last year saw Ukraine’s Black Sea ports blocked by warships until the agreement, brokered by the UN and Turkey and signed in July 2022, allowed for the passage of critical grain shipments.

Russia refused to extend the deal on Monday, sparking outrage from the United Nations, which warned millions of the world’s poorest would “pay the price”.

The Kremlin said it was exiting the deal, after months of complaining that elements allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Moscow’s move would “strike a blow to people in need everywhere.”

“Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis. They will pay the price,” he told reporters.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was prepared to keep exporting grain via the Black Sea despite Russia’s exit.

“We are not afraid. We have been approached by companies that own ships. They said that they are ready” to continue shipments, Zelensky said.

Moscow’s withdrawal could see Russian ships once again prevent grain exports by blockading Ukrainian ports, as they did during the first months of the war in a move that helped drive up global food prices.

The UN said a final ship carrying Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea was inspected in Istanbul on Monday, a few hours before the deal expired.

– Crimea bridge blast –

Moscow’s withdrawal from the deal came hours after drones struck the only bridge connecting Russia’s mainland to the annexed Crimea peninsula, a key supply line for Russian forces in the south of Ukraine.

Kyiv’s navy and SBU security service carried out the “special operation” using seaborne drones, a security service source told AFP.

Russian authorities said a civilian couple was killed and their daughter wounded in the attack on the Kerch bridge, which was also damaged last year in a blast Moscow blamed on Kyiv.

Moscow said the attack had nothing to do with its withdrawal from the grain deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned a “senseless crime” in televised remarks, vowing a “response” and calling for tighter security at the bridge.

Local officials said traffic across the bridge had been halted and encouraged holidaymakers stranded in Crimea to drive home through occupied Ukraine.

Vehicle traffic was later “restored in reverse mode on the far right lane” of the bridge, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said.

– ‘Weaponising food’ –

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen condemned Moscow’s “cynical” decision, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s “unconscionable” action was “weaponising food”.

Guterres added that Russia’s decision would not stop the United Nations’ efforts to “facilitate the unimpeded access” to global markets of food and fertilisers from Ukraine and Russia.

According to data from the Joint Coordination Centre that had been overseeing the agreement, China and Turkey are the main beneficiaries of the grain shipments, as well as developed economies.

The deal has also helped the UN World Food Programme bring relief to countries facing critical food shortages such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen.

The news had a limited impact on international wheat prices, which are down by nearly a quarter from one year ago.

Guterres had been working hard to get the deal renewed and supported removing hurdles to Russia exporting its fertilisers.

About the author

AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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