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Ukraine struggles to resume grain exports despite Russia’s attack on Odesa

The joint image shows a fire engine at the scene of a burning building after a shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues at a site believed to be Odesa, Ukraine in this photo taken Captured from social media released on July 19, 2022.

Ukraine’s emergency services | Via Reuters

Ukraine stepped up on Sunday with an attempt to restart grain exports from Black Sea ports after a missile attack on Odesa raised doubts about whether Russia would make a deal to reduce global food shortage caused by war or not.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned Saturday’s strikes as “barbaric” showing that Moscow could not be trusted to implement an agreement reached just a day earlier with Turkish and Union mediation. United Nations.

Public broadcaster Suspilne quoted the Ukrainian military as saying after the attack that the missile did not hit the port’s grain storage area or cause significant damage, and Kyiv said preparations to resume operations. grain shipment is in progress.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a Facebook post: “We continue to make technical preparations for the export of agricultural products from our ports.

Russia said on Sunday its forces had hit a Ukrainian warship and an arsenal in Odesa with missiles.

The deal signed between Moscow and Kyiv was hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough that helped rein in soaring global food prices by restoring grain shipments from Ukrainian ports to pre-war levels of 5. million tons per month.

However, Zelenskyy’s economic adviser on Sunday said the attack on Odesa showed that deliveries could still be severely disrupted.

“Yesterday’s strike shows that it certainly won’t work like that,” Oleh Ustenko told Ukrainian TV station.

Although Ukraine has the capacity to export 60 million tons of grain in the next nine months, this could take up to 24 months if its ports cannot function properly, he said.

The war entered the sixth month

As the fighting entered its sixth month on Sunday, there was no sign that the fighting would stop.

Ukraine’s military said Russia had shelled in the north, south and east, and cited Russian activities that paved the way for an attack on Bakhmut in the Donbas region to the east.

The Air Force Command said its forces shot down three Russian Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea and targeted the area west of Khmelnytskyi.

In a video on Saturday, Zelenskiy said that in a Saturday video, Ukrainian forces were advancing “step by step” into the occupied Kherson area east of the Black Sea.

The attacks on Odesa have drawn condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Italy.

Video released by the Ukrainian military shows firefighters battling flames in an unidentified boat anchored next to a tugboat. Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the video or the date it was taken.

Russian news agencies quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that a Ukrainian warship and anti-ship missiles supplied by the United States were destroyed.

“A Ukrainian warship docked and a warehouse of US-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles were destroyed by long-range precision-guided naval missiles in the Odesa seaport on the territory of a ship repair plant.” .

On Saturday, Turkey’s defense minister said Russian officials told Ankara that Moscow had “nothing to do” with the airstrikes.

According to the Ukrainian military, two Kalibr missiles launched from a Russian warship hit the area of ​​a pumping station in the port and two other missiles were shot down by air defenses.

Safe path

The strikes appear to be in violation of Friday’s agreement that would allow safe entry and exit to Ukrainian ports.

Ukraine and Russia are major global wheat exporters and the blockade of Ukrainian ports by the Russian Black Sea fleet since the February 24 invasion of Moscow has left tens of millions of tons of grain stranded. , exacerbating bottlenecks in global supply chains.

According to the World Food Program, along with Western sanctions against Russia, it has caused food and energy price inflation, leaving some 47 million people “acute hunger”. under the World Food Program.

Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming sanctions for slowing its food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine exploiting its port access methods.

Ukraine has been exploiting the waters near its ports as part of its defense campaign but under the agreement, pilots will guide ships along safe channels.

A Joint Coordination Center staffed by members of the four parties to the agreement monitors ships passing through the Black Sea to the Turkish Bosporus and to world markets. All parties agreed on Friday there would be no attacks against them.

Putin called the war a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and destroying dangerous nationalists. Kyiv and the West call this a baseless pretext for an aggressive land grab.

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