Russian missile, drone attacks deal serious blow to Ukraine’s Odessa port

A building damaged during Russian missile and drone strikes is shown in Odessa, Ukraine, July 18, 2023, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine.- Reuters
A building damaged during Russian missile and drone strikes is shown amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine in Odessa, Ukraine, on July 18, 2023. – Reuters

Throughout the night there were reports of missile and drone strikes by Russia in southern and eastern Ukraine that damaged infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Odessa, Reuters reported.

The attack on Odessa, a key port for Ukraine’s grain exports, was carried out in retaliation by Russia following an explosion on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow blamed on Ukraine.

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

The missiles and most of the drones were shot down in the south in the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions, while the rest were destroyed in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk in the east.

According to Ukraine’s Southern Military Command, several houses and unspecified port infrastructure were damaged in Odessa due to falling debris and blast waves as a result of the attack. Although no casualties have been reported, an elderly man was injured.

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

The latest attack is “further proof that the country-terrorist’s goal is to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries dependent on Ukrainian food exports,” commented Andrey Yermak, chief of presidential staff, on Telegram.

Ukraine’s neighboring country Moldova condemned the attacks and Russia’s decision to end the Black Sea grain agreement.

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

US aid chief Samantha Power, who announced more than $500 million in humanitarian aid during her visit to Ukraine on Monday, is expected to visit Odessa on Tuesday.

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

In the latest round of Russian shelling, three civilians were reported 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 Zaporizhia.

These reports could not be independently verified by Reuters. At present, there is no immediate comment from Russia regarding the attacks.

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