Ukraine claims Russia targeted major port city
Ukraine has claimed that Russia launched a cruise missile strike on the port of Odessa, a major trade hub in the country's southwest. The claim, made by the Ukrainian military and officials, comes a day after a UN-brokered deal to unblock the nation's grain exports was reached.
At least four cruise missiles were used to target the facility, a spokesman for the Odessa military administration, Sergey Bratchuk, said. Two of the projectiles were intercepted, while the two others hit the port’s infrastructure, he claimed.
Footage circulating online purports to show a plume of smoke rising above the port, as well as an object appearing to be a small boat on fire. Other images show an apparent explosion of an anti-aircraft rocket in the sky above the city.
Russia deliberately targeted the grain silos at the port, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s ‘South’ command, Natalya Gumenyuk, claimed. Still, the grain storage was not damaged and the port did not sustain “significant damage.”
Moscow has so far remained silent on the latest claims from Kiev. Russia has repeatedly stated that it exclusively strikes military targets in the ongoing conflict, which broke out in late February.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara had discussed the incident with both Moscow and Kiev. “Russians told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and that they were examining the affair very closely and in detail,” Akar revealed.
Ukraine’s accusations come one day after representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the UN, and Turkey signed a deal to unblock exports of grain, food, and fertilizers from Ukrainian ports.
The “reported strikes” have already been “unequivocally” condemned by the UN. “Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets. These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe,” Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
The EU has condemned the alleged strike as well, with the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell taking to Twitter to call out Moscow.
“Striking a target crucial for grain export a day after the signature of Istanbul agreements is particularly reprehensible and again demonstrates Russia’s total disregard for international law and commitments,” Borrell asserted.