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Russian strike on Odesa Oblast port hits foreign cargo ship, kills 1

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 8, 2023 10:15 PM 2 min read
An damage sustained by a civilian cargo ship after it was hit by a Russian missile strike, while at a port in Odesa Oblast on Nov. 8, 2023. (Odesa Regional Prosecutor's Office)
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A Russian missile struck a civilian ship in a port in Odesa Oblast, killing one person on board and injuring four others, the Southern Defense Forces reported on Nov. 8.

The port pilot was killed and another port worker was injured when a Russian Kh-31P air-to-surface missile hit the ship above its main deck.

Another three members of the ship's crew were injured, all of whom are citizens of the Philippines, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov reported.

The ship sails under the flag of Liberia and was "a civilian vessel carrying iron ore to China," Kubrakov said.

The Odesa Regional Prosecutor's Office said that its staff were at the scene of the attack to record evidence for an investigation into the war crime.

After Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports would be considered "potential carriers of military cargo" and, therefore, military targets.

Attacks against Ukraine's port and grain infrastructure then escalated, with strikes on sea and river ports in Odesa Oblast becoming a frequent occurrence.  

The Ukrainian Navy opened a temporary corridor in September, allowing cargo ships to exit and enter the regions ports.

The corridor hugs the coastlines of Ukraine and NATO members Romania and Bulgaria, rather than going directly towards the Bosphorus Strait.

The proximity of the route to NATO countries does not guarantee safety. A Turkish cargo ship suffered minor damage from a mine 20 kilometers from the Romanian port of Sulina on the Black Sea on Oct. 5.

Ukraine's Southern Operational Command said on Nov. 1 that Russian warplanes dropped "explosive objects" along the likely route of civilian vessels in the Black Sea three times in 24 hours.

Despite the risks, over 1.3 million metric tons of Ukrainian agricultural products and other cargo had been exported through the temporary corridor by the end of October, according to the Infrastructure Ministry.

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