Russia launched a missile attack on Ukraine’s key grain-exporting port of Odessa, officials said, hours after signing an international agreement to ease its blockade of the Black Sea coastline and allow for the safe transport of grain and other foodstuffs necessary to alleviate a looming global food crisis.
The attack on Odessa appeared to violate the terms of the United Nations-brokered agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul on Friday, which stipulated that both countries would refrain from attacking port facilities or civilian ships used for grain transport, according to a copy of the agreement reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the strike, saying in a statement that all parties had committed to ensuring the safe movement of Ukrainian grain shipments.
At least two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit Odessa, the only major Ukrainian port resisting Russian occupation, damaging infrastructure at the site, Ukraine officials said. Another two of the missiles, which Russia has been launching from warships and submarines, were shot down by aerial defenses, officials said.
A railcar discharging point and a warehouse used for loading grain were destroyed in the attack, according to international grain traders.
The target of the strike was likely a nearby shipbuilding yard, workers at the port said.
“It’s obvious that the agreement with Russia is not even worth the paper it was signed on…Russia is a terrorist state,” said Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, who was present at the signing of the agreement.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said the attack on Odessa was like spitting in the face of the U.N. and Turkey, which facilitated and hosted the negotiations. [Continue reading…]