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Russia attacks Odesa port, compromises grain deal

by The Kyiv Independent news desk July 23, 2022 12:47 PM 2 min read
Ship to shore cranes at the Black Sea Port of Odesa in Odesa on March 17, 2022. (Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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According to Ukraine's Operational Command “South,” Russian forces attacked the Black Sea trade port in Odesa with Kalibr cruise missiles on July 23.

Two missiles were shot down by Ukraine’s air defense, while the other two hit the port's facilities, the military said.

A minor fire broke out at the port's pumping station, but there was no significant damage to port infrastructure or grain storage facilities, Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for the command said. Humeniuk also said the blast waves from the attack damaged nearby homes.

The attack came a day after Russia and Ukraine signed UN-backed agreements to resume exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. The deal aimed to unblock crucial grain exports and ease fears of a looming global food crisis. It envisioned safe passage of Ukrainian grain from three southwestern ports in Odesa Oblast, including the one in Odesa.

Read more: Ukraine, Russia sign UN-backed grain deal but implementation uncertain

Following the strike, the Ministry of Agriculture told Suspilne media outlet that there was grain stored at the port at the time of the attack. The grain was expected to be exported in the next couple of days, according to the ministry's comment.

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said that the attack calls into question “agreements and promises” given by Russia to the UN and Turkey under the deal it signed in Istanbul on July 22.

Nikolenko called on the UN and Turkey to ensure Russia's “compliance with its obligations within the framework of the safe functioning of the grain corridor.”

“In case of failure to fulfill the agreements reached, Russia will bear full responsibility for the deepening of the global food crisis,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement "unequivocally condemned" the strikes, saying that on July 22, "all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets."

"Full implementation by the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Turkey is imperative," Guterres said.

Read more: Ukrainian grain has nowhere to go as Russian blockade persists

President Volodymyr Zelensky's Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said on Twitter that Russia is “systematically creating a food crisis, doing everything to make people suffer.”

According to Yermak, effective sanctions against Russia, as well as more weapons for Ukraine would be the best “guarantees of food safety.”

"The terror of starvation continues. The world must act," Yermak wrote.

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