Russia says strike on Ukrainian port hit military targets

Russia says strike on Ukrainian port hit military targets
In this photo provided by the Odesa City Hall Press Office, firefighters put out a fire in a port after a Russian missiles attack in Odesa, Ukraine, Saturday, June 5, 2022. (Odesa City Hall Press Office via AP)

Russian defense officials insisted Sunday that an airstrike on the Ukrainian port of Odesa hit only military targets, but the attack tested an agreement on resuming grain shipments that the two countries signed less than a day before the assault.

Long-range missiles destroyed a docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse holding Harpoon anti-ship missiles supplied by the U.S., Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a daily briefing.

Speaking late Saturday in his nightly televised address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the attack on Odesa “destroyed the very possibility” of dialogue with Russia.

Under the grain-shipment agreement obtained by The Associated Press, both Kyiv and Moscow agreed not to target vessels and port facilities involved in the initiative, including the ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

The Ukrainian military said the attack involved four cruise missiles, two of which were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said no grain storage facilities were hit. Turkey’s defense minister, however, said he had had reports from Ukrainian authorities that one missile struck a grain silo while another landed nearby, although neither affected loading at Odesa’s docks.

It was not immediately clear how the airstrike would affect plans to resume shipping Ukrainian grain by sea in safe corridors out of the ports.

Russia and Ukraine on Friday signed identical agreements with the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul aimed at clearing the way for the shipment of millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain, as well as the export of Russian grain and fertilizer.

Senior U.N. officials voiced hopes that the deal would end a months-long standoff that threatened food security around the globe.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian shelling continued to kill and wound civilians in Ukraine’s south and east.

The governor of the eastern Donetsk region, one of two that make up Ukraine’s industrial heartland of the Donbas and a key focus of Russia’s offensive, said two civilians had been killed and two more wounded over the previous 24 hours.

The U.K. military reported Sunday in its daily intelligence update that Russia was making “minimal progress” in its Donbas offensive, which it said remained small-scale and focused on the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff confirmed in its regular update that Russia was “conducting military operations to create conditions” for an assault on Bakhmut, while firing on surrounding settlements and battling Ukrainian defenders for control of a nearby thermal plant.

In Ukraine’s south, regional officials said that at least five civilians were wounded by Russian shells in the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“Also, as a result of the scattering of munitions and their fragments, fires occurred in open areas in the city,” said Vitaly Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region.

The Associated PressThe Associated Press

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