Ukraine war: Russia destroys 'considerable amount' of grain stocks in Odesa after exiting Black Sea deal
The strike on the grain terminals and port infrastructure in Odesa, southern Ukraine comes after the Kerch bridge linking Crimea to Russia was attacked
Russia has destroyed a "considerable amount" of Ukrainian grain stock following strikes on the Black Sea port cities of Odesa and the Chornomorsk.
Moscow targeted the stocks overnight on Wednesday 18 July, around 48 hours after it was announced that Russia had exited an international grain deal which guaranteed the safe passage of the food item across the Black Sea. Russia had already hit the Odesa and Mykolaiv, another port city, in the aftermath of the deal exit.
The missile attacks on the Odesa and Chornomorsk stock piles have seen 60,000 tonnes of grain destroyed, according to Ukrainian officials. The strikes have also damaged storage infrastructure.
The strikes also came after the Kerch Bridge, a vital link between occupied Crimea and Russia, was hit by explosions, killing two people. The Kremlin laid blame for the explosion on Ukraine, with Putin vowing retaliation from Moscow.
The latest round of missile attacks were described as "truly massive" by Odesa military spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the destruction of the grain impacted "everyone in the world striving for a normal and safe life".
The grain deal which Russia opted out of Monday (16 July) had been set up to allow for the transportation of food and grains across the Black Sea amid the war in Ukraine. A food crisis had been sparked by the outbreak of war, with Russia initially blocking the port and therefore the delivery of vital grains around the world.
However, Russia argued that the conditions of the deal had not been met, meaning that it could no longer continue in the agreement. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The Black Sea agreements ceased to be valid today. Unfortunately, the part of these Black Sea agreements concerning Russia has not been implemented so far, so their effect is terminated."
The demands included the end to sanctions against the Russian Agricultural Bank and the reopening of supply lines for Russian agricultural machinery and parts.
Around 32.9 million tonnes of grain has been exported from Ukraine since August as a result of the deal. Most of the food has been sent to developing nations, with Kenyan government officials describing Russia's move as a "stab on the back".
The deal had been originally brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said that he hopes to see Russia re-enter into the agreement once again.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that he regretted the Russian decision to exit the voluntary deal. He added: “Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere. But it will not stop our efforts to facilitate the unimpeded access to global markets for food products and fertilisers from both Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”
In addition to the strikes seen in Odesa overnight, explosions were also experienced in Crimea. Around 2,200 residents were evacuated from their homes near the city of Staryi Krim after a fire at a nearby ammunition depot sparked explosions in the region.
The cause of the explosions had not yet been determined by officials. The Kremlin confirmed that Putin had been briefed on the situation.