Russian strike on Odessa seaport jeopardizes talks with Ukraine


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian Defense Ministry officials insisted on Sunday that an airstrike on the port of Odessa — less than a day after Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement on resuming grain shipments from there – had only hit military targets.

“In the seaport of the city of Odessa, on the territory of a shipyard, sea-based high-precision long-range missiles destroyed a moored Ukrainian warship and a warehouse with Harpoon anti-ship missiles provided by the United States to the Kyiv regime,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a daily press briefing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his televised address on Saturday evening that the attack on Odessa “destroyed the very possibility” of a dialogue with Russia.

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Moscow attacked the seaport of Odessa with four cruise missiles, two of which were shot down by Ukraine’s air defense.

READ MORE: Russia strikes Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa hours after grain export deal

Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said no grain storage facilities were affected. Turkey’s defense minister, however, said he had received information from Ukrainian authorities that one missile hit a grain silo while another landed nearby, although neither affected loading on the docks of Odessa.

It was not immediately clear how the airstrike would affect plans to resume Ukrainian grain shipments by sea through safe corridors from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

Russia and Ukraine signed identical agreements with the UN and Turkey on Friday in Istanbul aimed at paving the way for the shipment of millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain, as well as the export of grain and of Russian fertilizers. Senior UN officials expressed hope that the deal would end a months-long stalemate sparked by the war in Ukraine that was threatening food security around the world.

The agreement, obtained by the Associated Press, committed both Kyiv and Moscow to refrain from striking the three Black Sea ports.

READ MORE: Ukraine and Russia sign UN agreement to export grain to the Black Sea

Elsewhere on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian shelling continued to kill and injure civilians in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Governor of eastern Donetsk region, one of two that make up Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbass and a key part of Russia’s offensive, says two civilians have been killed and two injured in the past 24 hours .

On Sunday morning, the British military reported in its daily intelligence update that Russia was making ‘minimal progress’ in its ongoing offensive in Donbass, which it said remained small-scale and focused on the city. of Bakhmut in the eastern region of Donetsk in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s General Staff confirmed in its regular update that Russia was ‘carrying out military operations to create the conditions’ for an assault on Bakhmut, while firing on surrounding settlements and fighting Ukrainian defenders for control from a nearby thermal power station.

In southern Ukraine, regional officials said at least five civilians were injured by Russian shells in the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“In addition, as a result of the scattering of munitions and their fragments, fires occurred in open areas of the city,” said Vitaly Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region.

In other developments:

– A Washington-based think tank says Ukrainian forces are likely preparing to launch or have launched a counteroffensive in the Kherson region.

The Institute for War Studies quoted Kherson Oblast administration adviser Serhiy Khlan as saying that Ukrainian forces seized unspecified settlements in the area, but called on Ukrainian civilians to remain silent on the progress of the counter-offensive until the Ukrainian authorities issue official statements.

The ISW notes that open-source information on any Ukrainian troop progress “will likely be limited and lagging behind events.”

– Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials as his country seeks to break diplomatic isolation and sanctions from the West following its invasion of Ukraine.

Lavrov landed in Cairo on Saturday evening, the first leg of his Africa trip which will also include stops in Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo, according to Russian state broadcaster RT.

Speaking at a news conference following bilateral talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shukri, on Sunday, Lavrov said he had ‘reaffirmed the commitment of Russian grain exporters to fulfill all their obligations’ following the UN-backed deal to unblock cereals. shipments.

– Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a speech in Romania that Western sanctions against Russia had failed and that the war in Ukraine would not end “until there are Russian-American peace negotiations “.

Orban said in a speech in Baile Tusnad, central Romania, on Saturday that “a new strategy is needed, which should focus on peace talks…instead of winning the war.”

“The situation is that today we are sitting in a car with flat tires on all four wheels,” he said. “It is quite obvious that the war cannot be won this way. The Ukrainians will never win a war against Russia with American training officers and weapons.

The far-right leader went on to say that if Donald Trump and Germany’s Angela Merkel had always been in charge in their countries, “then this war would never have broken out.”


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