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Zelensky: Military to strengthen defenses of ports after Odesa strikes

by Martin Fornusek July 19, 2023 2:16 PM 3 min read
The aftermath of Russian strikes against Odesa, July 19, 2023. (Source: State Emergency Service/Telegram)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky said on July 19 that the military had been instructed to strengthen the security of ports following the Russian strikes against Odesa and elsewhere.

During a press conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Zelensky said that Ukraine needs additional SAMP-T or Patriot air defense systems to protect the city.

The statement comes following a Russian night strike against Odesa Oblast, carried out with missiles and kamikaze drones.

Several missiles hit the grain and oil terminal of Odesa's port, damaging loading equipment. Residential buildings and an industrial facility in the city were damaged as well, the Odesa Oblast Military Administration reported.

According to Odesa Oblast Governor Oleh Kiper, three city residents were injured by debris that fell on residential areas. An employee of the damaged factory and two people in the Kobleve community were also injured, he added.

The State Emergency Service reported later that five city residents total received injuries.

Kiper said that Ukraine's defenses shot down eight drones and one missile over the oblast, but other projectiles and falling debris nevertheless caused damage.

Turkey, Russia, UN Chief, hold talks on grain deal termination
Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan held talks by phone on July 18 with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and U.N. Secretary General António Guterres on Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, according to Turkish diplomatic sources cited by Anadolu Agency.

According to Zelensky, Russian forces are deliberately aiming at infrastructure for exporting grain.

"Every Russian missile is a blow not only to Ukraine but also to everyone in the world who seeks a normal and safe life," the president commented.

Zelensky wrote on his Telegram channel that the Foreign Ministry will work with partners to intensify pressure against Russia to resume the export of Ukrainian grain.

Ukraine is currently exploring possibilities for securing the grain corridor with convoy escorts, but this option has to be discussed with Turkey and other partners, Zelensky said during the press conference with Varadkar.

Russia withdrew its participation from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, on July 17, effectively terminating the deal. The move sparked international criticism and fears of rising food prices worldwide.

Following its withdrawal from the deal, Moscow carried out two consecutive strikes against the port city of Odesa on July 18 and 19.

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