Russian missile, drone strikes deal serious blow to Ukraine’s port of Odesa

A view shows a building damaged during a Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russias attack on Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine July 18, 2023.— Reuters
A view shows a building damaged during a Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine July 18, 2023.— Reuters

Overnight, there were reports of missile and drone strikes conducted by Russia in southern and eastern Ukraine, causing damage to infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Odesa, Reuters reported. 

This attack on Odesa, a crucial port for Ukraine’s grain exports, came as a retaliatory measure by Russia following an explosion on a bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow blamed on Ukraine. 

Ukraine’s air force confirmed that out of the six Kalibr missiles fired, all were successfully intercepted, along with 31 out of 36 drones. 

The missiles and most of the drones were taken down over the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions in the south, while the remainder were destroyed over Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk in the east.

According to Ukraine’s southern military command, the attack resulted in damage to several homes and unspecified port infrastructure in Odesa due to falling debris and blast waves. Although no fatalities were reported, an elderly man sustained injuries.

 It is worth noting that Odesa has frequently been targeted since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, despite the port’s inclusion in a UN-brokered agreement that ensured the safe export of grain from the Black Sea, a deal which Russia withdrew from on Monday.

The recent attack serves as “further evidence that the country-terrorist aims to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries that rely on Ukrainian food exports,” commented Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential staff, on Telegram. 

Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbouring country, condemned the attacks and Russia’s decision to terminate the Black Sea grain agreement. 

Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu stated on Twitter that the bombing of the Odessa region, including the port, demonstrates Russia’s strategy of weaponizing food and depriving those in need.

Samantha Power, the US aid chief, who announced over $500 million in humanitarian assistance during her visit to Ukraine on Monday, is expected to visit Odesa on Tuesday. 

Ukrainian authorities also reported a fire at an undisclosed facility in the port of Mykolaiv on Monday, which grants Ukraine access to the Black Sea, but provided limited details.

 In the latest round of Russian shelling, three civilians were reported to have been killed in the Donetsk region, and the general prosecutor’s office confirmed the death of a woman in Orikhiv, located in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. 

These reports could not be independently verified by Reuters. As of now, there has been no immediate comment from Russia regarding the attacks.

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