Russia launched a large overnight drone and missile attack against the coastal city of Odesa, just hours after Moscow refused to extend a deal allowing the safe export of grain from the region.
Ukrainian officials said “several waves” were unleashed against the Black Sea city. Six cruise missiles and 21 kamikaze drones were intercepted and destroyed by air defenses in the region, but falling debris damaged port and industrial infrastructure.
"Unfortunately, the debris of the downed missiles and the blast wave from the downing damaged the port infrastructure facilities and several private homes," Ukraine's southern command said in a statement.
It did not specify exactly where the port infrastructure facilities or homes were located. An elderly man was injured in his home and was receiving treatment, it added.
On Monday, Russia accused Ukraine of using the Black Sea grain corridor for “combat purposes” and said the drone and missile attack was a “retaliation strike” against sites in Odesa port that it claimed were involved in planning the attack on the Crimea Bridge.
Odesa region in southern Ukraine is home to maritime terminals that were key to the expired grain export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv.
❗️Russia's overnight attack on #Odesa damaged port infrastructure, several private homes, windows in the city's cafes, and several other buildings. One civilian was injured.— KyivPost (@KyivPost) July 18, 2023
📷: Ukraine's Southern Command pic.twitter.com/KdoMoiS1Yw
Russia was “attacking the south of Ukraine with attack drones,” head of the Odesa region’s military administration, Oleg Kiper, said on Telegram during the night, warning residents to stay in shelters.
Air alerts were also announced in Mykolayiv, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Kirovograd, and Cherkasy.
Four drones were intercepted in the Mykolayiv region.
Russia’s full-scale invasion last year saw Ukraine’s Black Sea ports blocked by warships until the agreement, signed in July 2022, allowed for the passage of critical grain exports.
The deal expired at midnight in Istanbul (21:00 GMT) after Russia refused an extension, arguing that elements of the deal allowing the export of Russian food and fertilizers had not been honored.
“The grain deal has ended. As soon as the Russian part (of the agreements) are fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Moscow's move would “strike a blow to people in need everywhere.”
“Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis. They will pay the price,” he told reporters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was prepared to keep exporting grain via the Black Sea despite Russia’s exit.
“We are not afraid. We have been approached by companies that own ships. They said that they are ready” to continue shipments, Zelensky said.
Moscow’s withdrawal could see Russian ships preventing grain exports by blockading Ukrainian ports, which occurred in the full-scale war's early months and helped drive up global food prices.
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