Ukraine on Sunday pushed ahead with efforts to restart grain exports from Black Sea ports after a missile attack on Odessa, raising doubts whether Russia would agree to a deal aimed at easing global food shortages caused by the war. will respect.
President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Saturday’s attacks as “barbarism”, showing that Moscow cannot be relied upon to implement the agreement reached a day earlier with mediation from Turkey and the United Nations.
Public broadcaster Saspilane quoted Ukrainian military after the strike as saying the missiles did not hit the port’s grain storage area or cause significant damage and Kyiv said preparations were underway to resume grain shipments.
“We continue technical preparations for the export of agricultural products from our ports,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a Facebook post.
Russia said on Sunday that its forces fired missiles at a Ukrainian warship and weapons store in Odessa.
The deal, signed by Moscow and Kyiv, was seen as a diplomatic success that would help curb global food prices by restoring grain shipments from Ukrainian ports to pre-war levels of up to 5 million tonnes per month.
But Zelensky’s economic adviser said on Sunday that the strike in Odessa showed deliveries could still be severely hampered.
“Yesterday’s strike indicates that it certainly will not work like that,” Oleh Ustenko told Ukrainian television.
He said Ukraine has the potential to export 60 million tonnes of grain in the next nine months, but it could take up to 24 months if its ports do not function properly.
War enters sixth month
As the war entered its sixth month on Sunday, the fighting showed no sign of abating.
Ukrainian forces reported Russian shelling in the north, south and east, and again referred to Russian operations in the east paving the way for an attack on Bakhmut in the Donbass region.
Air Force Command said its forces fired three Russian Kalibr cruise missiles early on Sunday from the Black Sea and targeted the western Khmelnitsky region.
While the main theater of the war has been the Donbass, Zelensky said in video on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were advancing “step by step” in the eastern Black Sea region occupied by Kherson.
The attack on Odessa was condemned by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Germany and Italy.
Video released by the Ukrainian military showed firefighters battling a fire on an unidentified boat with a tug boat. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the authenticity of the video or the date it was filmed.
Russian news agencies quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying that a Ukrainian warship and US-supplied anti-ship missiles were destroyed.
“A docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse with US-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles were destroyed by long-range precision-guided naval missiles in the port of Odessa in the area of the ship repair plant,” it said .
On Saturday, Turkey’s defense minister said Russian officials told Ankara that Moscow had nothing to do with the attacks.
According to the Ukrainian military, two Kalibr missiles fired from Russian warships hit a pumping station in the port area and two others were shot down by air defense forces.
The strikes appeared to be in violation of Friday’s deal, which would allow safe passage in and out of Ukrainian ports.
Ukraine and Russia are big global wheat exporters and the blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the February 24 invasion of Moscow has trapped millions of tons of grain, worsening global supply chain bottlenecks.
According to the World Food Program, along with Western sanctions on Russia, it has exacerbated food and energy price inflation, leaving some 47 million people in “acute hunger”.
Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Ukraine for sanctions slowing its food and fertilizer exports and mining for its ports.
Ukraine mines waters near its ports as part of its war defences, but under the deal pilots will guide ships along safe channels.
A Joint Coordination Center appointed by members of the four parties to the agreement to oversee ships moving from the Black Sea to the Bosporus Strait of Turkey and world markets. On Friday, all sides agreed that there would be no attack on them.
Putin calls the war a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and driving out dangerous nationalists. Kyiv and the West refer to this as an unfounded excuse for aggressive land grab.
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