Hours after the UN sponsored grain deal to let Kiev to export wheat ended, Russia bombarded Ukraine’s port of Odessa with missiles and drones on July 18th, Ukrainian officials said Moscow was attempting to go back on the offensive in the east.
Russian attacks on Ukraine’s ports followed a pledge by Moscow to retaliate for blasts on Russia’s road bridge to the occupied Crimean Peninsula, knocked out on Monday by what Moscow said were strikes by Ukrainian seaborne drones.
Shortly after the bridge was hit on Monday, 17 July, Moscow pulled out of the year-old U.N.-brokered grain export deal, a move the United Nations said risked creating hunger around the world.
Russia’s overnight attacks on Ukraine’s ports were “further proof that the country-terrorist wants to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries that depend on Ukrainian food exports,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential staff, said on Telegram.
Ukraine’s southern operational military command said falling debris and blast waves damaged several homes and unspecified port infrastructure in Odessa, Local authorities in Mykolaiv, another port, described a serious fire there.
The Black Sea grain export deal brokered a year ago by Turkey and the United Nations was one of the only diplomatic successes of the war, lifting a de facto Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and heading off a global food emergency.
Ukraine and Russia are both among the world’s biggest exporters of grain and other foodstuffs. If Ukrainian grain is again blocked from the market, prices could soar around the world, hitting the poorest countries hardest.