Russia said Sunday its missile barrage on a Ukrainian port important to a newly signed grain export deal targeted the facility’s military infrastructure, after the attack sparked anger from Ukraine and its allies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Saturday’s attack on the Odessa port – which came just a day after the warring parties struck a deal to resume exports halted by the conflict – as “Russian barbarism”.
But a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman appeared to retract that denial on Sunday, saying the strikes had destroyed a Ukrainian warship.
The port attack cast doubt on the important agreement aimed at alleviating the global food crisis that was reached over months of negotiations and signed in Istanbul.
“This apparent Russian barbarism brings us one step closer to obtaining the weapons we need to achieve our victory,” Zelensky said in a late-night address to the nation.
– Mykolaiv attacks –
Guterres, who chaired Friday’s signing ceremony, “unequivocally” condemned the attack. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said the “reprehensible” strikes showed Russia’s disregard for its commitments.
Until Zakharova’s claims on Sunday, there was no response from Moscow, but Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Russia denied carrying out the attack.
The governor of the Odessa region, Maxim Marchenko, said the strikes left people injured and damaged the infrastructure of the Odessa port, without specifying the number or severity of injuries.
Ukraine warned at the signing that it would implement an “immediate military response” if Russia violated the agreement and attacked its ships or launched an incursion around its ports.
The agreement includes points about operating Ukrainian grain ships along safe lanes that avoid known mines in the Black Sea.
About 20 million tons of last year’s crop will be exported under the agreement, Zelensky said, estimating the value of Ukraine’s grain stockpile at about $10 billion.
The Ukrainian presidency said, on Sunday, that the agreement reached in Istanbul led to little delay on the battlefield as Russian forces were carrying out bombing operations across the sprawling front line over the weekend.
burs-jbr / raz