Russia targets key Ukraine Black Sea port of Odesa, a day after halting grain export deal

AFP , AP , Tuesday 18 Jul 2023

Ukrainian forces shot down scores of exploding drones and six cruise missiles from a pre-dawn Russian attack on the port of Odesa on Tuesday, that had allowed Kyiv to ship vital grain supplies from the Black Sea city during the war.

Odesa sea port
File photo: The grain storage terminal at the Odesa Sea Port, in Odesa, Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. AP


The Russians first sought to wear down Ukraine’s air defenses with the drones and then targeted Odesa with six Kalibr cruise missiles, the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command said.

All six missiles and 25 drones were shot down by air defenses in the Odesa region and other areas in the south but their debris and shock waves damaged some port facilities and a few residential buildings, injuring an elderly man at his home, officials said.

Russia said Tuesday it had carried out a "retaliation strike" against sites in Ukraine's Odesa port that were involved in planning an attack on Moscow's bridge to Crimea.

"At night, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation delivered a group retaliation strike with high-precision sea-based weapons at facilities where terrorist acts against Russia had been prepared using unmanned boats," the Russian army said in a statement.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces used 28 drones and that 17 of them were shot down by air defenses and 11 others were jammed by electronic warfare means and crashed. It said there was no damage or casualties.

The reported attack came a day after a Ukrainian attack on a bridge linking Crimea to Russia killed two civilians and left their child wounded.

"From a military point of view, this is a senseless crime," President Vladimir Putin said in televised remarks on Monday in regard to the attack.

The bridge had not been used for military transportation "for a long time," he stressed.

Calling for tougher security measures on the bridge Putin added, "I am waiting for specific proposals to improve the security of this strategic, important transport facility."

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said Tuesday's attack showed the Kremlin is ready to endanger the lives of millions of people around the world who need Ukrainian grain exports.

The United Nations and Ukraine’s Western allies slammed Moscow for halting the Black Sea Grain Initiative, saying it put many lives in peril.

The Kremlin said the agreement would be suspended until Moscow’s demands to lift restrictions on exports of Russian food and fertilizer to the world are met.

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