Russia launched a major aerial attack on southern Ukraine overnight, the Ukrainian military said Monday, hitting Odesa port and destroying grain stores.

Russia "attacked the south of the country again", the Defence Forces of the South of Ukraine said on the messaging platform Telegram.

Since July when Moscow pulled out of a UN-brokered deal allowing safe grain shipments via the Black Sea, Russia has ramped up attacks on Ukraine's grain-exporting infrastructure in the southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions.

Nataliya Gumenyuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian southern military command, said Russia was apparently "trying to test out the density of the air defence".

"They understand that port infrastructure is a priority for our region, and that it is reliably protected. However, that is why the attack that occurred tonight was both massive and by combined means," she said on Telegram.

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The Defence Forces of the South of Ukraine said Russia directed 19 drones and 2 Onyx supersonic missiles at Odesa, and fired 12 Kalibr cruise missiles.

The Ukrainian air force said the Kalibrs were launched from a ship and a submarine. They claimed all 19 Shaheds and 11 Kalibrs were shot down.

However, Russia "hit the port infrastructure" in Odesa, which "suffered significant damage", the southern defence forces said.

"Onyx missiles destroyed granaries. But people were not hurt," they said. Warehouses and a private house in the Odesa suburbs were damaged and caught fire, they added, "as a result of falling debris". Gumenyuk said one of the grain stores hit was empty.

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Zelensky urged the UK to help boost Ukraine's "long-range capability," saying lifting restrictions on Western weapons would allow Ukraine to better defend against Russian offensives.

"Nevertheless, hitting grain deal-related infrastructure", she said, was a Russian "priority".

Odesa regional governor Oleg Kiper said on Telegram that one woman in Odesa, a civilian, was injured by shrapnel "in a blast wave" and was being treated in hospital. 

Ukraine is testing a new Black Sea route that avoids international waters and uses those controlled by NATO members Bulgaria and Romania, with the first two grain shipments reaching Turkey in recent days.

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Russia and Ukraine are two major agricultural powers whose supplies are crucial for global food security. Moscow's invasion of its neighbour in February last year – and subsequent international sanctions – have destabilised global supplies and markets.

Elsewhere overnight in the south of Ukraine, Kherson regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said that Russia shelled Kherson, damaging an educational institution, while strikes targeted nearby Olgivka and Lvove.

"Information about the victims and destruction is being clarified," he said on Telegram.

Sergiy Lysak, governor of the east-central Dnipropetrovsk region, said falling debris from a downed drone caused a fire at an industrial enterprise in Kryvyi Rig, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Pokrovska and Myrivska communities were hit with "heavy artillery", he added, but without causing deaths or injuries. 

Meanwhile Russia's defence ministry said its air defences had "destroyed" four unmanned aerial vehicles over the northwestern Black Sea, and the Crimean peninsula which Moscow annexed in 2014.

It said two drones each were intercepted in Kursk and Bryansk, two regions bordering Ukraine. Kursk regional governor Roman Starovoyt said several homes and the roof of an administrative building were damaged "due to an attack by Ukrainian UAVs" in the central district.

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No casualties were reported. Bryansk regional governor Aleksandr Bogomaz said there were "no casualties or damage" in the region.

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