Cyprus Mail

Kyiv says Russia attacks grain infrastructure with strikes on Ukraine’s Odesa ports

aftermath of a russian missile attack in odesa
Firefighters work at a site of storage facilities hit during Russian missile and drone strikes in Odesa, Ukraine July 19, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of damaging grain export infrastructure in “hellish” overnight strikes focused on two of its Black Sea ports, vowing not to be intimidated from working to keep grain exports moving out of them.

Russia attacked the Odesa region for the second consecutive night after quitting a year-old deal allowing the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea on Monday. Ukraine said it was setting up a temporary shipping route to Romania.

“Russian terrorists absolutely deliberately targeted the infrastructure of the grain deal,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on the Telegram messaging app. “Every Russian missile – is a strike not only on Ukraine but on everyone in the world who wants normal and safe life.”

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said 10 civilians, including a 9-year-old boy, were wounded. Grains terminals were damaged as well as an industrial facility, warehouses, shopping malls, residential and administrative buildings and cars.

Flames and smoke rose from shattered warehouses in video released by the emergencies ministry, which also showed a residential block with shattered windows.

Russia on Wednesday said it would consider all ships travelling to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports as potential carriers of military cargoes from midnight on Thursday morning Moscow time (2100 GMT on Wednesday), following the end of the grain deal.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said flag states of ships travelling to Ukrainian ports would be considered parties to the conflict on the Ukrainian side.

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday said Russia’s exit from the deal threatens to increase global food insecurity and could raise food prices, especially in poor countries.


On Tuesday, Russia said it had hit military targets in two Ukrainian port cities overnight as “a mass revenge strike” for a blast that damaged its bridge to Crimea, the peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine’s air force said on Wednesday 63 missiles and drones had been launched across the country by Russia, mainly focused on infrastructure and military facilities in the Odesa region.

Air defences had shot down 37 of them, it said, a lower proportion than it has usually reported over months of attacks.

A considerable part of the grain export infrastructure at Chornomorsk port southwest of Odesa was damaged, Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky said, adding that 60,000 tons of grain had been destroyed.

The attack was “very powerful, truly massive,” Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odesa military administration, said in a voice message on his Telegram channel on Wednesday.

“It was a hellish night,” he said.

Ukraine’s southern military command said Russia had used supersonic missiles, including the Kh-22 that was designed to take out aircraft carriers, to hit Odesa’s port infrastructure.


The Odesa region’s three ports were the only ones operating in Ukraine during the war under the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative that allowed Ukrainian grain exports vital to global supplies through a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports.

In Crimea a fire at a military training ground in the Kirovske district forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people from four settlements, said Russian-installed Crimea governor Sergei Aksyonov, who did not give a reason for the blaze.

Telegram channels linked to Russian security services and Ukrainian media said an ammunition depot was on fire at the base after a Ukrainian overnight air attack.

Odesa’s military administration spokesman Bratchuk posted two videos of a fire in an uninhabited area, saying, “Enemy ammunition depot. Staryi Krym.”

Staryi Krym is a small town in Crimea’s Kirovske district.

Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive last month to try to drive Russian forces out of its south and east, where they have dug in along a heavily-fortified front line after failing to capture Kyiv in the early days of the invasion.


Ukraine, which recaptured much of its northeastern Kharkiv region last September, said this week that Russia was again on the offensive there and that “heavy fighting” was taking place.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday its forces had captured Movchanove railway station in the region, the TASS news agency reported. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military general staff said its forces had captured Russian positions around Bakhmut city further south.

The United Nations has said there were a “number of ideas being floated” to help get Ukrainian grain and Russian grain and fertilizer to global markets. Moscow’s decision raised concern primarily in Africa and Asia of rising food prices and hunger.

The Black Sea deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in July last year to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The two countries are among the world’s top grain exporters.

Russia says it could return to the grain deal, but only if its demands are met for rules to be eased for its own exports of food and fertiliser. Western countries call that an attempt to use leverage over food supplies to force a weakening in financial sanctions, which already allow Russia to sell food.

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