Ukraine is working to resume grain exports but says Russian strikes are a risk

Ukraine has pushed ahead with efforts to resume grain exports from its Black Sea ports as part of a deal to ease global food shortages, but warned that supplies would suffer if a Russian missile attack on Odessa was a sign more could come would come.

Local resident Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced Saturday’s attack as “barbarism” and showed that Moscow cannot be trusted to implement an agreement struck a day earlier with Turkey and the United Nations brokerage.

The Ukrainian military, quoted by public broadcaster Suspilne, said the Russian missiles did not hit the port’s grain store or cause significant damage. Kyiv said preparations to resume grain deliveries were underway.

“We continue technical preparations for export of agricultural products from our ports,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a Facebook post.

The Ukrainian military said two Kalibr missiles fired by Russian warships hit the area of ​​a pumping station at the port and two others were shot down by air defense forces.

Russia said Sunday its forces hit a Ukrainian warship and weapons cache in Odessa with precision missiles.

The deal, signed by Moscow and Kyiv on Friday, has been hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough that would help stem soaring food prices around the world by bringing Ukraine’s grain shipments back to pre-war levels of 5 million tonnes a month.

But Zelenskyi’s economic adviser, Oleh Ustenko, told Ukrainian television that the strike “suggests that it’s definitely not going to work out that way.”

He said Ukraine could export 60 million tons of grain over the next nine months but it would take up to 24 months if operations at its ports were disrupted.

There were no signs of abating the fighting on Monday as Russia announced plans to investigate war crimes allegedly committed by Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian military reported widespread Russian shelling, again citing Russian operations paving the way for an attack on Bakhmut in the eastern Donbass region.

The military said in a briefing note that the Russians conducted airstrikes near the Vuhlehirsk power plant, 50 km (31 miles) northeast of Donetsk.

While the Donbass has been the main battlefield, the Ukrainian military has reported progress on a counteroffensive in the occupied eastern Black Sea region of Kherson, where its forces have moved within firing range of Russian targets. Russian commanders continue to face a dilemma – whether to resource an offensive in the east or bolster their defences, Britain’s MoD said on Twitter.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

Moscow has charged 92 members of Ukraine’s armed forces with crimes against humanity and proposed a new international tribunal to conduct the investigation, Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s investigative committee, said in a note released overnight.

The announcement comes after the United States and more than 40 other countries agreed on July 14 to coordinate investigations into alleged war crimes in Ukraine, primarily related to alleged actions by Russian forces and their proxies.

The strikes in Odessa have been condemned by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Germany and Italy.

Russian news agencies quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying a Ukrainian warship and US-supplied anti-ship missiles had been destroyed.

Friday’s deal aims to allow safe passage in and out of Ukrainian ports that have been blocked by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since it invaded Moscow on February 24, in what a UN official has described as a “de facto ceasefire” for the affected vessels and facilities.

Ukraine and Russia are major global wheat exporters, and the blockade has trapped tens of millions of tons of grain, exacerbating bottlenecks in global supply chains.

Along with Western sanctions against Russia, it has fueled inflation in food and energy prices, pushing some 47 million people into “acute hunger,” according to the World Food Program.

Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming sanctions for slowing its food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.

Ukraine has mined waters near its ports as part of its war defense, but under Friday’s deal, pilots will guide ships on safe channels.

A joint coordination center made up of members from the four parties to the agreement will oversee ships transiting the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait and on to world markets. All sides agreed on Friday that there would be no attacks on them.

Putin calls the war a “military special operation” aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and rooting out dangerous nationalists. Kyiv and the West call this an unfounded pretext for an aggressive land grab. Ukraine is working to resume grain exports but says Russian strikes are a risk

Fry Electronics Team

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