Russia: Strike on Ukrainian port hit only military targets
KYIV, Ukraine — 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.
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.
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 hoped that the deal would end a monthslong standoff that threatened food security around the globe.
Elsewhere 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 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.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials as his country seeks to break diplomatic isolation and sanctions by the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
Lavrov landed in Cairo late Saturday on the first leg of his Africa trip, which will also include stops in Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo, according to Russia’s staterun RT television network.
Speaking at a Sunday news conference following bilateral talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Lavrov said he had “reaffirmed the commitment of Russian grain exporters to fulfill all their obligations” in the wake of the U.N.-backed deal to unblock grain shipments.