Russian missile strikes on Odesa raise doubts over Ukraine grain deal – POLITICO


KYIV, Ukraine — Russia fired a number of missiles on the port of Odesa on Saturday, Ukrainian authorities mentioned, elevating the query of whether or not Moscow would abide by an important deal struck Friday to unblock Ukraine’s seaports to permit for the transport of hundreds of thousands of tons of grain wanted to feed international locations in Africa and the Center East. 

“The enemy attacked the Odesa maritime commerce port with winged ‘Kalibr’ cruise missiles,” the Ukrainian navy’s Southern Operation Command reported on Fb. “2 rockets had been shot down by air protection forces. 2 hit the port infrastructure services.”

As pictures and movies of black smoke rising from the port circulated on social media, it was not instantly clear how the assault would affect the grain export settlement. But it surely raised considerations over whether or not Russia would uphold its finish of the deal.

Ukrainian officers and politicians reacted with anger and mentioned it was extra of the identical from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some known as for Western companions to supply Ukraine with air-defense methods.

“It took lower than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile assault on Odesa’s port, breaking its guarantees and undermining its commitments earlier than the UN and Turkey underneath the Istanbul settlement,” Ukraine Overseas Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko tweeted. “In case of non-fulfillment, Russia will bear full duty for international meals disaster,” he mentioned. 

“Give Ukraine weapons to guard Odesa,” tweeted Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko. “Anti air defence, fighters, anti ship missiles. Russia understands solely drive.”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Coverage advised Ukraine’s Suspilne information outlet that grain ready to be exported was being saved on the port on the time of the missile assault. About 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain has been caught since Russia’s invasion in February, unable to be exported as a result of battle.

“We had been anticipating the primary shipments [to be moved] tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” the ministry mentioned.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, mentioned the federal government in Kyiv “is not going to again down from our aim of unlocking seaports.”

“We proceed technical preparations for the launch of exports of agricultural merchandise from our ports,” Kubrakov mentioned on Fb.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy briefed a visiting delegation from the U.S. Congress on the missile strikes. “This proves just one factor: it doesn’t matter what Russia says and guarantees, it’ll discover methods to not implement it,” Zelenskyy advised the group. “Geopolitically, with weapons, bloodily or not, however it has a number of vectors, because it all the time acts.”

‘Significantly reprehensible’

EU international affairs chief Josep Borrell mentioned the bloc “strongly condemns” the missile strike on Odesa’s port. “Placing a goal essential for grain export a day after the signature of Istanbul agreements is significantly reprehensible & once more demonstrates Russia’s complete disregard for worldwide regulation & commitments,” Borrell tweeted.

Zelenskyy’s chief of employees, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Twitter that “the Russians are systematically making a meals disaster doing the whole lot to make individuals endure.”

“Famine terror continues. The world should act,” Yermak mentioned. “The most effective meals security ensures are twofold: efficient sanctions in opposition to Russia and extra weapons for Ukraine.”

U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv Bridget Brink known as the Russian assault “outrageous.” 

“The Kremlin continues to weaponize meals,” Brink tweeted. “Russia should be held to account.”

Whereas Moscow has issued no official touch upon the incident, Turkey’s protection chief mentioned on Saturday that Russia denied involvement, AFP reported. “The Russians advised us that they’d completely nothing to do with this assault and so they had been wanting into the difficulty very intently,” Protection Minister Hulusi Akar mentioned, in accordance with the company.

The grain export settlement is supposed to reopen Ukraine’s seaports and assure secure passage for the ships carrying Ukrainian grain by way of the Black Sea to import-dependent nations. Kyiv made clear on Friday that the settlement was not a political one.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister and Russia’s protection minister signed separate paperwork with the U.N. and Turkey, vowing to carry up their ends of the accord. The deal permits for the creation of a “management heart” in Istanbul, which can coordinate and monitor the grain exports.

At a press convention in Istanbul after the accord was signed, U.N. Secretary-Basic António Guterres celebrated by calling it “an settlement for the world.” 

“It’ll deliver aid for creating international locations on the sting of chapter and essentially the most susceptible individuals on the sting of famine. It’ll assist stabilize international meals costs which had been already at record-levels even earlier than the conflict,” he mentioned.

However Western and Ukrainian officers rapidly expressed concern about whether or not Russia would follow it.

“That’s all it’s best to learn about Russians and agreements,” Ukraine’s Goncharenko mentioned on Saturday. “[Putin] is weaponising the whole lot.”

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