Ukraine accuses Russia of hitting a grain processing plant in the largest Black Sea port. Several people were injured, according to the governor of the region.
According to the Ukrainian army, Russian missiles hit the port of Odessa on Saturday July 23, and in particular a cereal processing plant. “Unfortunately, a few people are injured. Port infrastructure is damaged,” Maksym Marchenko said in a video message posted on social media. Ukraine accuses Vladimir Putin of having “spit in the face” of the UN and Turkey and of compromising the application of the agreement signed the day before on the resumption of grain exports blocked by the war.
But Russia has denied to Ankara any involvement in these strikes, said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. “The Russians told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and that they were looking into the matter very closely,” he said, the day after the signing in Istanbul by kyiv and Moscow of an agreement on the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports blocked by the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy has accused Russia of systematically violating its commitments. “It only proves one thing: no matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it,” Volodymyr Zelensky said during a meeting with a delegation of American elected officials, according to a press release from the presidency.
Two cruise missiles shot down
A few hours earlier, Turkey had said it was “concerned” about these strikes against the port of Odessa. “The fact that such an incident happened right after the agreement we reached yesterday (…) really concerns us,” Hulusi Akar said. “We will continue to assume our responsibilities in the agreement we reached yesterday,” he added, however. This agreement should allow the export of 20 to 25 million tonnes of grain blocked in Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict.
Odessa is the largest city and the most important port on the entire Black Sea coast, crucial for the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports in the face of the risk of famines in the world. By firing cruise missiles at it, the Russian president “spit in the face of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep (Tayyip) Erdogan, who have made enormous efforts to reach this agreement”, has Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said.
Ukraine immediately warned that Russia would assume “full responsibility” if the grain export deal failed. A spokesman for the administration of the Odessa region, Sergey Brachuk, said that two of the cruise missiles were shot down by anti-aircraft defense.
One Ukrainian soldier killed, nine injured
Central Ukraine was not spared either with a resumption of Russian strikes on Saturday which killed three people, after a lull in the fighting which focused on Donbass (east). Thirteen Russian cruise missiles launched from the sea fell near the town of Kropyvnytskyi located in the Kirovograd region (center), announced its governor Andriy Raikovych. He said railway infrastructure and a military airfield were targeted near the town of Kropyvnytskyi. “Nine Ukrainian soldiers were injured and one soldier was killed,” he said. Artillery fire also targeted Kharkiv, in the northeast, where a woman was injured, according to the Ukrainian presidency.
These strikes come the day after the agreement on cereals that the two belligerents initialed in two identical but separate texts, at the request of the Ukrainians who refused to sign with the Russians. The African Union was “welcomed” on Saturday by this agreement, hailing a “welcome development” for the continent which faces an increased risk of famine.
The agreement should make it possible to export between 20 and 25 million tonnes of grain blocked in Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia – two countries which notably provide 30% of world wheat exports – has led to a surge in grain and oil prices, hitting hard the African continent which is very dependent on these countries for its supply. .
Condemnation from the international community
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has accused Russia of carrying out a “reprehensible” missile attack on the Ukrainian port of Odessa, the day after the agreement signed with kyiv to authorize the resumption grain exports from the Black Sea terminal. “Hitting a crucial grain export target a day after the Istanbul Accords were signed is particularly reprehensible and demonstrates yet again Russia’s utter disregard for international law and commitments,” he said. wrote on Twitter.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also said he “unequivocally condemns” the missile attacks on Saturday against the Ukrainian port of Odessa, crucial for the implementation of the agreement signed the day before on the recovery grain exports blocked by the war. “Full implementation (of the agreement) by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative,” he said in a statement.
The UK also condemned the “absolutely appalling” attack on the Ukrainian port. “It is absolutely appalling that just one day after this agreement Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a completely unwarranted attack on Odessa,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss said.
“It shows you can’t trust a word he says,” she added during a campaign trip to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “and we need to work urgently with our international partners to find another way to get grain out of Ukraine without involving Russia and its broken promises”.