UKRAINE: Following a missile attack on the port of Odesa, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned Russia for “barbarism.”
Hours before the strike, a historic agreement was reached to resume Ukraine’s grain exports.
Despite the apparent breach, Moscow has not commented on the attack, and Kyiv has stated that preparations are still being made to resume grain exports.
But on Saturday, President Zelenskyy claimed that it showed how Moscow could not be relied upon to uphold the agreement.
He vowed to take all necessary steps to get air defence systems that could later shoot down such missiles.
Agreement to allow grain export
Ukraine is a significant exporter of grains, but because of the conflict, over 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in its ports and unable to depart due to Russian soldiers. Africa, which typically imports its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, has seen food shortages and price increases as a result.
In the agreement signed on Friday, Russia promised not to attack ports while grain shipments were in motion.
“But just hours after the agreement was signed, two Kalibr missiles hit Odesa port, according to the Ukrainian military’s southern command centre. Another two missiles were shot down by air defence systems,” it added.
The command centre reported that the strike did not significantly harm the port.
The attack has received strong condemnation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken charged Russia with escalating the world food crisis and said the attack raised “serious doubts” about Russia’s adherence to the agreement.
“Russia must stop its aggression and fully implement the grain deal to which it has agreed,” he said on Saturday.
Although the Kremlin has not yet stated the attack, the Turkish government, which mediated the agreement, claimed that Russian officials had denied responsibility.
“In our contact with Russia, the Russians told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and that they were examining the issue very closely and in detail,” said Defence Minister Hulusai Akar.
In a related incident, Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, claimed that Ukraine could not defeat Russia.
He claimed that only negotiations for peace between Washington and Moscow could bring an end to the war while addressing a conservative gathering abroad.
A deal allowing the transfer of millions of tonnes of grain stranded in Ukraine was reached by representatives from Kyiv and Moscow on Friday.
The agreement was hailed as a “beacon of hope” by the UN after months of fighting.
The agreement, which took two months to finalise, will endure for 120 days, and a coordination and monitoring centre with workers from the UN, Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine will be set up in Istanbul. If both parties concur, it may be renewed.
Also Read: Russia-Ukraine War: Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska Arrives in US for High-level Meetings