UN chief 'unequivocally condemns' attack on Ukraine's Odessa port

·2-min read
© Reuters/Igor Tkachenko

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

Russian missiles struck Ukraine's key Black Sea port of Odessa Saturday, officials said, in an attack Kyiv described as a "spit in the face" of a deal signed by the warring neighbours a day earlier to resume grain exports blocked by the conflict.

Two cruise missiles hit terminal infrastructure, regional authorities said on social media, casting a shadow over the landmark agreement hammered out over months of negotiations aimed at relieving a global food crisis caused by stalled deliveries that sent wheat prices tumbling.

"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."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell slammed what he called Russia's "reprehensible" missile attack on Ukraine's Odessa, 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.

The first major accord between the countries since the February invasion of Ukraine aims to ease the "acute hunger" that the United Nations says faces an additional 47 million people because of the war.

"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 an agreement," said Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko.

Nikolenko added Russia would bear "full responsibility for deepening the global food crisis" if the agreement were jeopardised by the assault.

"The enemy attacked the Odessa sea port with Kalibr cruise missiles. Two of the missiles were shot down by air defences. Two hit port infrastructure," Sergiy Bratchuk, a representative of the Odessa region said in a statement on social media.

The hostility between Moscow and Kyiv had spilled over into Friday's signing ceremony in Istanbul -- delayed briefly by disputes about the display of flags around the table and Ukraine's refusal to put its name on the same document as the Russians.

(with newswires)

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