Russia fires missiles at Odessa port hours after signing grain export deal

Russian missiles hit the city of Odessa on Saturday, hours after Moscow and Kyiv signed agreements allowing grain exports to resume from the Black Sea port, officials in Ukraine said on Saturday.

The strikes were denounced by Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, as “spit in the face” of Turkish President Recep Erdogan and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who had helped broker the deals.

“It took less than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile attack on the port of Odessa, breaking its promises and undermining its commitments to the UN and Turkey under the Istanbul Accords,” Nikolenko said in a statement.

“In case of non-compliance, Russia will bear full responsibility for a global food crisis,” he added.

Two missiles hit the port’s infrastructure and Ukrainian air defenses downed two more, the Southern Command of the Ukrainian military said in a statement. It was not stated whether there were any injuries or what damage was caused.

NBC News has not been able to independently verify the claims.

Nikolenko called on the United Nations and Turkey to ensure Russia honors commitments made on Friday.

This included the establishment of a maritime “humanitarian corridor” free of naval vessels, warplanes and drones to clear the way for millions of tons of grain to be shipped from Ukraine. It also freed up some Russian exports of grain and fertilizers that had been held back by the war.

During a signing ceremony in Istanbul on Friday, Guterres hailed the agreement as “a beacon of hope, a beacon of opportunity, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”

The agreement was also intended to establish a de facto ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia along identified shipping routes and represented a major symbolic breakthrough.

Bridget Brink, the US ambassador in Kyiv, called the strikes in Odessa “outrageous”.

“The Kremlin continues to arm food. Russia must be held accountable,” she wrote on Twitter.

The Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports has been in effect since invading the country on February 24, sparking a global food crisis. Before the war, Ukraine accounted for 10% of world wheat exports, 14% of corn and half of sunflower oil, and was known as the “breadbasket of the world”.

Although Russia blames Ukraine and NATO for the global food crisis, their argument has lost traction in developing countries that rely heavily on Ukrainian grains and are feeling the brunt of the food crisis.

US and EU sanctions against Russia have not banned food exports or targeted Russian fertilizers, but many private shipping and insurance companies have chosen not to do business with Moscow after the February invasion.

Elsewhere, in central Ukraine’s Kirovohradska region, 13 Russian missiles hit an airfield and railway facility.

Governor Andriy Raikovych said at least one soldier and two guards were killed and the regional administration reported the strikes near the city of Kirovohrad, in which another 13 people were injured.

In the southern Kherson region, which Russian forces captured early in the invasion, Ukrainian forces were also preparing for a possible counter-offensive, firing rockets at Dnieper crossings to try to cut off supplies to the Russians.

Associated Press contributed. Russia fires missiles at Odessa port hours after signing grain export deal

Fry Electronics Team

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