Russia attacks Ukrainian port of Odessa following deal to export grain: officials
Russia attacked the Black Sea trade port in Odessa, Ukraine, on Saturday, less than one day after the two countries came to an agreement — mediated by Turkey — to export tons of grain out of Ukrainian sea ports.
Four Kalibr cruise missiles jetted toward the port, two of which were shot down before hitting the port, the city of Odessa announced.
The grain deal, which was also mediated by the United Nations, attempted to improve global food shortages by allowing ports in Ukraine, including the Black Sea trade port, to operate and ship grain worldwide.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has lead to a de facto blockage of Black Sea ports, keeping key agricultural goods from leaving the area.
“It took less than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile attack on Odessa’s port, breaking its promises and undermining its commitments before the UN and Türkiye under the Istanbul agreement,” Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Oleg Nikolenko tweeted. “In case of non-fulfillment, Russia will bear full responsibility for global food crisis.”
The Ministry of Agrarian Policy told Ukraine’s Suspilne News that there were plans to ship grain out from the Odessa before it was hit by missiles.
“This is not an attack on Odesa port. This is a blow to the whole world,” said Odessa Regional Military Administration spokesman Bratchuk Sergey of the incident.
Sergey called for other nations to supply Ukraine with “modern air defense and missile defense system.”
The Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, criticized Russia for the “diplomatic dichotomy,” alleging that the country had not complied with the grain agreement.
He added: “The Russians are systematically creating a food crisis doing everything to make people suffer. Famine terror continues. The world must act. The best food safety guarantees are twofold: effective sanctions against Russia and more weapons for Ukraine.”
U.S. officials also weighed in on the reported attack, admonishing Russia for its actions and voicing their support for Ukraine.
“Just 24 hours after finalizing a deal to allow the resumption of Ukrainian agricultural exports through the Black Sea, Russia breached its commitments by attacking the historic port from which grain and agricultural exports would again be transported under this arrangement,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“The Kremlin continues to show disregard for the safety and security of millions of civilians as it perpetuates its assault on Ukraine. Russia is starving Ukraine of its economic vitality and the world of its food supply through the effective blockade of the Black Sea,” he added.
The move was also condemned by U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink.
“Outrageous,” Brink tweeted. “Russia strikes the port city of Odesa less than 24 hours after signing an agreement to allow shipments of agricultural exports. The Kremlin continues to weaponize food.”
She continued: “Russia must be held to account.”
It is unclear at this point how the missile attack will impact the grain supply.
The Hill has reached out to the UN and the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.S. for further comment.
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