Russia strikes Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa hours after grain deal

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Explosions have rocked a key Ukrainian port just a day after Kiev and Moscow reached a landmark deal to allow the resumption of grain exports.

Two missiles hit the port city of Odesa in the early hours of Saturday morning, Ukraine’s military said.

Under the terms of Friday’s deal, Russia agreed not to target ports while grain shipments are in transit.

The UN had described the deal as “a beacon of hope” following months of conflict.

In a post to social media, the Ukrainian military’s southern command center said two Kalibr missiles hit the port, while two more were shot down by air defense systems.

Oleksiy Honcharenko, a local MP, wrote on Telegram that the city’s port had caught fire after the attack.

“These scumbags sign contracts with one hand and direct missiles with the other,” Honcharenko wrote.

“So, we need planes and we need to sink the entire Black Sea fleet of the Russian Federation. This will be the best arrangement for the export of grain.”

It is unclear whether there were casualties or substantial damage.

On Friday, officials from Kiev and Moscow signed a deal to allow millions of tonnes of grain trapped in Ukraine to be exported.

According to diplomats, among the agreements struck Russia agreed not target ports while shipments

are in transit and Ukraine promised to guide cargo ships through mined waters.

The deal, which took two months to reach, is set to last for 120 days, with a coordination and monitoring center to be established in Istanbul, staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials. It can be renewed if both parties agree.

Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, condemned the attack and accused Russia of “systematically creating a food crisis”.

“The Russian missile is Vladimir Putin’s spit in the face of UN Secretary General António Guterres and President of Turkey Recep Erdogan, who made enormous efforts to reach an agreement, and to whom Ukraine is grateful,” added Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry.

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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