Turkey-flagged bulk carrier Tq Samsun leaves the sea port of Odesa Turkey-flagged bulk carrier Tq Samsun leaves the sea port of Odesa 

Russia attacks Ukrainian ports after ending grain deal

Russia has warned Ukraine of security risks if it continues shipping grain out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports without Moscow's approval. The Kremlin made the announcement after pulling out of a grain deal and then ordering overnight air strikes on Ukrainian port cities.

By Stefan J. Bos  

"Look, three Iranian drones deployed by Russia hit the same site," a witness said in video footage about the strikes.

Moscow said Tuesday that overnight Russian missile and drone attacks on two Ukrainian port cities were a "mass revenge strike" after Monday's attack on the bridge connecting Russia with the Crimean peninsula.

Russia blamed Kyiv, but Ukraine hasn't officially confirmed it carried out the attack in which two people were reportedly killed and their daughter injured.

After the bridge attack, the Russian defense ministry claimed it struck facilities where in its words, "terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared using crewless boats."

It added that they hit a boat manufacturer at a shipyard near Odesa and fuel depots in Mykolayiv.

Kyiv said using rockets and kamikaze drones on the two Ukrainian port cities was more proof that Russia wanted to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries that depend on Ukrainian food exports.

On Tuesday, the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said that every missile fired by Russia at the Ukrainian port of Odesa was also "the equivalent of firing a missile at people who are starving in the world."

Poland's agriculture minister, Robert Telus, said Russia uses grain as "ammunition."

End of grain deal

Russia also said it downed 28 Ukrainian drones over Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, but there were no reports of damages or casualties.

The attacks happened just hours after Russia pulled out of a United Nations-backed grain deal that had allowed Ukraine to export grain out of Black Sea ports safely.

However, the Kremlin accused Ukraine on Tuesday of using the Black Sea corridor for combat purposes.  

Moscow also warned Kyiv of the risks of continuing to ship grain out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports without security guarantees from Russia.

Some 17 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the latest standoff came as clashes continued on the front lines.

However, Britain's defense ministry said in its latest intelligence assessment that both sides achieved only "marginal advances" in different areas over the past week.

Kyiv has acknowledged a "complicated situation" in its counter-offensive, with General Aleksandr Syrskyi warning not to expect "fast results."      

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

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18 July 2023, 16:58