Ukraine: Russian attack on Odessa, Kyiv accuses Putin of ‘spitting’ in front of world
Russian strikes targeted the port of Odessa on Saturday, which Ukraine accused Vladimir Putin of spitting in the face of the UN and Turkey and affecting the application of a deal signed earlier in the day over war-blocked rescue grains.
Odessa is the largest city and the most important port on the entire Black Sea coast, which is crucial for the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports in the face of the threat of world famine.
By firing cruise missiles into the port of Odessa, the Russian president “spat in the face of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep (Tayyip) Erdogan, who made enormous efforts to reach this agreement,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko. .
Ukraine immediately warned that Russia would take “full responsibility” if the deal on grain exports fails.
Sergei Prachuk, a spokesman for the administration of the Odesa region, said two cruise missiles were shot down by anti-aircraft defenses.
– Strikes at the center –
After a lull in fighting focused on the Donbass (east), central Ukraine was not spared by the resumption of Russian attacks on Saturday that killed three people.
Thirteen sea-launched Russian cruise missiles fell near the city of Grobyvnitsky, located in the Kirovohrad region (center), its governor, Andrei Rykovich, announced.
He said railway infrastructure and a military airfield near the town of Kropyvnytskyi were targeted.
“Nine Ukrainian soldiers were injured and one soldier was killed,” he said.
The strikes come a day after a deal on grain that the two belligerents launched in two identical but separate texts at the request of Ukrainians who refused to sign it with the Russians.
The African Union on Saturday “welcomed” the deal, hailing it as a “welcome development” for a continent facing the risk of famine.
The agreement should make it possible to export 20 to 25 million tons of grain that has been banned in Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – especially two countries that provide 30% of world wheat exports – has led to a rise in grain and oil prices, hitting the African continent, which relies on these countries for its supplies, hard.
The rise in prices has worsened the situation in countries already facing a food crisis, especially in the Horn of Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti) which is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years.
– “Responsibility of the UN” –
On Friday, wheat prices fell sharply in Chicago and on Euronext, returning to their pre-war trend in Ukraine in reaction to the deal.
The signing of this tough negotiation text under the auspices of the United Nations and Ankara took place in Istanbul especially in the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and President Erdogan.
Conditions for its application are being met “in the coming days,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu promised soon.
Washington, which supports Ukraine against Russian aggression, has held Moscow responsible for the success of the operation. “It is now up to Russia to concretely implement this agreement,” underscored the number 3 of US diplomacy, Victoria Nuland.
Ukraine showed itself cautiously.
It is now “the responsibility of the UN” to ensure compliance with the agreement, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in the evening, adding that he expected “provocations, attempts to discredit Ukrainian and international efforts”.
“The agreement is fully in line with Ukraine’s interests”, he said, though he welcomed the fact that the Ukrainian military would control “100% of all access to ports”, as Russia initially demanded demining.
– “Safe Corridors” –
As a result of the agreement, the main step is the establishment of “safe corridors” to allow merchant ships, which carry out “not to attack” Moscow and Kyiv, to circulate in the Black Sea, the United Nations official explained.
It is valid for “120 days”, with about 25 million tons piled up in silos as a new harvest approaches in Ukraine.
However, negotiators abandoned the removal of Black Sea mines – mainly laid by Ukrainians to protect their coasts. UN says “Ukrainian pilots” will clear way for cargo ships in territorial waters
Inspections of ships departing from and bound for Ukraine, which will be requested by Russia to prevent them from being used to bring in weapons, will take place in Istanbul ports.
Hours before the signing, the Kremlin insisted that if Ukrainian grain was to reach world markets, it was necessary to “allow markets to receive additional quantities of fertilizers and grain” from Russia, whose exports had been suspended. Western barriers.
In addition, Washington on Friday announced $270 million in military aid to Ukraine, including four new Himars precision artillery systems and 500 Phoenix Coast suicide drones.
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