Russian missiles hit Odesa after Moscow agrees grain export deal with Kyiv


Ukraine accused Russia of firing missiles at its key grain exporting port of Odesa on Saturday, a day after Moscow signed a deal permitting Kyiv to renew grain exports in a bid to alleviate the rising international meals disaster.

Two Kalibr cruise missiles hit Odesa’s port and two others have been shot down by Ukrainian air defences, in response to Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for Ukraine’s southern army command.

Videos posted on social media confirmed a big plume of smoke billowing from the port. Oleksiy Honcharenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament, wrote on messaging app Telegram that not less than six explosions have been heard and an unspecified variety of folks have been wounded.

On Friday Russia’s defence minister signed a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey agreeing to let Kyiv export hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain from its Black Sea ports.

Russia’s navy has blockaded Ukraine’s industrial sea routes, launched missile strikes on its ports and grain storage infrastructure and attacked civilian grain transport ships since president Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Ukraine stated Saturday’s strikes violated Russia’s promise to not assault its grain export infrastructure and known as the viability of Friday’s deal into query.

Oleg Nikolenko, Ukraine’s international ministry spokesman, stated Russia would “bear full responsibility for the deepening of the global food crisis” if it didn’t uphold its guarantees to not assault the port. He accused Putin of “spit[ting] in the face” of UN secretary-general António Guterres and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who brokered the talks.

“Yesterday grain export by sea was agreed, and today the Russians are hitting Odesa port. That’s the Russian diplomatic dichotomy,” Andriy Yermak, head of president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration, wrote on Twitter.

Zelenskyy informed a visiting US congressional delegation that the assault “proves only one thing: no matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it”, in response to his web site.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken condemned the assault, saying Russia was “starving Ukraine of its economic vitality and the world of its food supply”.

“This attack casts serious doubt on the credibility of Russia’s commitment to yesterday’s deal and undermines the work of the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine to get critical food to world markets,” he stated.

The grain deal, which Guterres hailed as a “beacon of hope”, was the primary main settlement struck between the 2 sides within the five-month battle.

The blockade has choked off a vital financial lifeline for Ukraine and left an estimated 22mn tonnes of wheat, corn and different grains stranded in silos, with devastating results on international meals costs and poverty ranges.

As many as 47mn folks, significantly in sub-Saharan Africa, are liable to acute starvation due to the battle, in response to the World Food Programme.

Guterres’ workplace issued a press release saying he “unequivocally condemns” the strikes, with out immediately blaming Russia.

“Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets,” the assertion stated.

“These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe. Full implementation by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative.”

Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defence minister, stated his Ukrainian counterpart knowledgeable him that one Russian missile had hit a grain silo on the port however that cargo loading amenities have been unaffected and actions on the port continued. He additionally stated that Russian officers had denied to him that they’d something to do with the assault.

“The fact that this incident took place right after the agreement we made yesterday regarding the grain shipment has really worried us, and we are disturbed by this. However, we continue to fulfil our responsibilities in the agreement,” Akar informed the state information company Anadolu.

Akar added that Russian, Ukrainian and UN representatives have already begun to work collectively at a joint co-ordination centre in Turkey and he remained hopeful that grain shipments would begin shortly.

Billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich, who bought Chelsea Football Club in May after the UK and EU sanctioned him, attended the signing ceremony and performed a key function within the deal, in response to three folks acquainted with the matter.

Abramovich helped facilitate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine with Putin’s blessing earlier than they collapsed in April.

He visited Kyiv a number of instances, the place he met Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and has since performed a job brokering prisoner exchanges and opening evacuation routes for civilians, in response to folks acquainted with the matter.

“He was key to it all. He’s one of the only people close to Putin to whom the Ukrainians talk,” one of many folks stated. A Ukrainian official stated Abramovich’s function had develop into extra outstanding because the peace talks stalled within the spring.

“Somehow he is part of the circle dealing with sensitive issues between Ukraine and Russia,” the official stated. “He is on the list of trusted people who can be in any talks.”

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, denied that Abramovich had performed a vital function within the talks.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, officers within the port metropolis of Mykolayiv reported being hit by six Russian projectiles on Saturday. None of them hit port infrastructure and its amenities usually are not a part of the settlement that was brokered in Turkey.

The Kremlin, Turkey’s international ministry, and a spokesperson for Abramovich didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley and Felicia Schwartz

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