Russian missiles strike port of Odesa, key to restarting grain shipments

·9-min read
© Igor Tkachenko, Reuters

Russian missiles hit Ukraine's port of Odesa on Saturday, a day after the two countries signed a deal on restarting grain shipments through the Black Sea to avert widespread global food shortages. Ukrainian officials said two missiles struck infrastructure targets at the port while another two were shot down by air defences. Read about the day’s events as they unfolded on our live blog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2)

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10:56pm: Blinken says US strongly condemns Russian missile attack against Odesa

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US strongly condemns the Russian missile attack on Saturday against Ukaine's port of Odesa and said Russia bears responsibility for deepening the world's food crisis.

The attack "undermines work of the UN, Turkey and Ukraine to get critical food to world markets" Blinken said in a statement.

10:51pm: Ukraine's Zelensky says armed forces are moving into occupied Kherson region

Ukrainian forces are gradually moving into the eastern Kherson region, which was taken over by Russia at the start of the war, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Saturday.

"The occupiers have been trying to establish a foothold there ... but how did it help them? The Ukrainian armed forces are moving into the region step by step," he said.

7:24pm: 'People injured' in Russian strikes on Odesa port, says regional governor

Russian missile strikes Saturday on the port in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa caused injuries, the regional governor said, without specifying how many people had been hurt.

"Unfortunately, some people are injured. Port infrastructure is damaged," the Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said in a video statement on social media without giving details regarding the severity of the injuries.

6:35pm: UK govt calls Odesa attack 'absolutely appalling'

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Saturday called a Russian attack on the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa "absolutely appalling" and "completely unwarranted".

Truss said the strike, which took place just a day after Ukraine and Russia signed a deal to unblock grain exports, showed that Russia's Vladimir Putin could not be trusted.

"We need to urgently work with our international partners to find a better way of getting the grain out of Ukraine that doesn't involve Russia and their broken promises," she added.

4:21pm: Russia told Turkey it had 'nothing to do' with strike on Ukraine's Odesa port, says Turkey’s defence minister

Turkey’s defence minister said on Saturday that Russian officials had told Ankara that Moscow had "nothing to do" with strikes on Ukraine's Odesa port.

"In our contact with Russia, the Russians told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack, and that they were examining the issue very closely and in detail," Defence Minister Hulusai Akar said in a statement.

"The fact that an incident like this happened after the agreement we made yesterday ... really makes us concerned," he added.

3:15pm: Zelensky says Odesa strike proves Russia will find ways not to implement grain deal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia's missile strike on the port of Odesa on Saturday demonstrated that Moscow would find ways not to implement the grain deal struck with the UN, Turkey and Ukraine.

"This proves only one thing: no matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it," Zelensky said in a video posted on Telegram.

2:45pm: Ukraine preparing to export grain from ports despite Russian strike, says Ukrainian infrastructure minister

Ukraine’s southern military spokesperson says the Russian missile strike on Saturday did not cause significant damage to the Odesa port’s infrastructure, as only a pumping station was hit.

As a result, Ukraine continues to prepare to restart grain exports from its Black Sea ports, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

"We continue technical preparations for the launch of exports of agricultural products from our ports," Kubrakov wrote on Facebook.

2:31pm: EU's Borrell condemns 'reprehensible' Russian strike on Odesa

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Saturday slammed what he called Russia's "reprehensible" missile attack on Ukraine’s Odesa, after Kyiv and Moscow penned a deal to allow grain exports from the Black Sea port.

"Striking a target crucial for grain export a day after the signature of (the) Istanbul agreements is particularly reprehensible and again demonstrates Russia's total disregard for international law and commitments," he wrote on Twitter.

2:14pm: UN chief 'unequivocally condemns' attack on Ukraine's Odesa port

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "unequivocally" condemned missile attacks earlier in the day on Saturday on Ukraine’s Odesa, a port that is key to a UN-brokered grain export deal between Russia and Ukraine.

"The Secretary-General unequivocally condemns reported strikes today in the Ukrainian port of Odesa," his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement, adding that: "Full implementation (of the deal) by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative."

12:13pm: US envoy says Russia should be held to account for strike on Odesa

The US ambassador to Kyiv said that Moscow should be held to account for what she said was an "outrageous" Russian strike on the port city of Odesa on Saturday.

Russian missiles hit infrastructure in Odesa a day after Russia and Ukraine, with mediation by the United Nations and Turkey, signed a deal to reopen Black Sea ports and resume grain exports.

"The Kremlin continues to weaponize food. Russia must be held to account," US Ambassador Bridget Brink wrote on Twitter.

12:06pm: Orban urges new EU strategy on Ukraine, says sanctions have failed

The European Union needs a new strategy on the war in Ukraine as sanctions against Moscow have not worked, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday.

"A new strategy is needed which should focus peace talks and drafting a good peace proposal, instead of winning the war," Orban said in a speech in Romania.

Orban, reelected for a fourth consecutive term in April, reiterated that Hungary, a NATO member, would stay out of the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

12:02pm: Ukraine says Putin 'spits in the face' of UN, Turkey with Odesa attack

Ukraine accused the Kremlin of not complying with grain deal signed in Turkey and said it would be responsible for any food crisis if the deal to export Ukrainian grain from Odesa collapsed after Russian missiles struck the Black Sea port.

"The Russian missile (strike) is (Russian President) Vladimir Putin's spit in the face of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep (Tayyip) Erdogan, who made enormous efforts to reach the agreement," said foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko.

"If the reached agreement is not fulfilled, Russia will bear full responsibility for deepening the global food crisis," he added.

The UN chief, Antonio Guterres, as well as EU's Joseph Borrell, condemned the attack on Ukraine's Odesa port.

11:40am: Ukraine urges UN, Turkey to force to Russia comply with grain export agreements

Ukraine has called on the United Nations and Turkey to ensure that Russia fulfills its commitments under the agreement for a safe corridor for grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Russian missiles hit infrastructure in Ukraine's port of Odesa on Saturday, a day after Russia and Ukraine, with mediation by the United Nations and Turkey, signed a deal to reopen Black Sea ports to resume such exports.

11:15am: Russian missiles hit Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa

Russian missiles hit infrastructure in Ukraine's port of Odesa on Saturday, a day after Russia and Ukraine signed a deal to reopen Black Sea ports to resume grain exports, the Ukrainian military said.

"The enemy attacked the Odesa sea trade port with Kalibr cruise missiles; two missiles were shot down by air defence forces; two hit the infrastructure of the port," the Operational Command South wrote on Telegram.

9:46am: Russian strikes kill three in central Ukraine, says governor

Thirteen Russian missiles hit a military airfield and railway infrastructure in Ukraine's central Kirohovrad region on Saturday, killing and wounding a number of people, the local governor said.

Governor Andriy Raikovych wrote on Telegram that rescue teams were working at the impact sites and that one small district of the regional capital, Kropyvnytskyi, had been left without electricity.

"Nine Ukrainian servicemen were injured and one serviceman is dead. Two guards of an electrical substation were also killed," Andriy Raikovych, the head of the Kirovograd region, told Ukrainian media.

7:58am: UK says Ukraine continues offensive against Russia in Kherson

Heavy fighting has been taking place in the last 48 hours as Ukrainian forces continued their offensive against Russia in Kherson province, west of the Dnipro River, British military intelligence said on Saturday.

Russian forces are using artillery fire along the InguletsRiver, a tributary of the Dnipro, the UK's Ministry of Defence said.

"Supply lines of the Russian forces west of the river are increasingly at risk," the ministry said in an intelligence update. It added that additional Ukrainian strikes have caused further damage to the key Antonivsky Bridge, though Russia has conducted temporary repairs.

5:50am: Washington announces $270 million in additional military aid to Ukraine

The United States has announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth $270 million, including four new HIMARS precision artillery systems.

Washington will also deliver 36,000 additional shells, up to 580 Phoenix Ghost kamikaze drones and four armoured command posts.

The United States will have provided Kiev with a total of 20 units of these multiple rocket launchers mounted on light armoured vehicles after this new delivery, said John Kirby, White House spokesman on strategic issues.

2:50am: Agreement signed in Istanbul on grain exports

Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul with the UN and Turkey to unblock grain exports in light of the famine risk worldwide, while bombing continued in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The two sides initialled two identical but separate texts at the request of the Ukrainians who refused to sign with the Russians.

The signing of the agreement, which had been painstakingly negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations and Ankara, took place at the Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus Strait in the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The conditions are in place for its application "in the next few days", Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu assured shortly afterwards.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AP and AFP)

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