December 5, 2022

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Attack on Odessa (Ukraine): Russia appears to be destroying Harpoon missiles in US arsenal.

Port infrastructure has been damaged
Moscow: Odessa destroyed in Harpoon missile attack

A Russian attack on Odessa will not stop Ukrainian ports. They are preparing to export grains. Meanwhile, the Kremlin gives more details: in addition to a ship repair shop, a warehouse containing American weapons was also hit during the shelling.

Russia has acknowledged the attack on the port of Odessa in southern Ukraine. A Ukrainian warship and a warehouse of US-supplied Harpoon missiles were destroyed, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a telegram. A ship repair shop is also unusable. According to Turkey, Moscow had not yet launched airstrikes on Saturday.

Meanwhile, three ports on the Black Sea have begun preparing for transit. The Authority Responsible for Ports reported that work is underway to reopen the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny. According to the agreement reached in Istanbul on Friday, shipping convoys will be prepared for grain exports by sea, it said. A caravan is formed, which must be led by a lead ship. The Commission asked the shipping companies to register their ships for this purpose. The advance continued despite the Russian missile attack.

“The Russians have told us that they have nothing to do with this attack and that they are investigating the matter very closely,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Agar said. Now the Kremlin has distanced itself from this representation. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Telegram that “military infrastructure” was destroyed by “high-precision” Kalibr cruise missiles. The Russian Defense Ministry later confirmed the attack. Russia has not provided evidence for these reports. They could not be independently verified.

Grain stocks were saved

The Odesa port was shelled on Saturday, a day after the grain export agreement was signed. According to Ukrainian information, port infrastructure has been damaged. Grain was also stored there at the time of the attack, but the stocks were not affected by the shelling. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack as “blatant Russian barbarism”. On the other hand, the attack brings Ukraine “closer to the goal of obtaining the weapons necessary for our victory,” he added in a video message Sunday night. Kiev had previously said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had spit in the face of the United Nations by shelling Odessa and was jeopardizing the implementation of an agreement on blocked grain exports.

The attack was condemned internationally. For example, the US government questioned Russia’s credibility. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Saturday that the attack raised “serious doubts” about Russian involvement. “It undermines efforts by the UN, Turkey and Ukraine to get essential food supplies to world markets.” UN and Turkey have spent months mediating between Kyiv and Moscow to resume Ukrainian grain supplies, which have been blocked since the start of the war. An agreement was reached on Friday for safe transit routes in the Black Sea. The belligerents agreed not to attack ships in these routes.

Odessa is a major Ukrainian port on the Black Sea coast. The city is one of the three places specified in the Grain Agreement as a hub for grain exports. It was initially unclear whether the agreements, which were supposed to take effect “in the next few days” according to Russian reports, had now expired. Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian military continued shelling over the weekend. Ukraine’s presidential office announced the attacks in the east and south of the country on Sunday. In the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, four cruise missiles hit residential areas on Saturday. Five people were injured.

(This article was originally published on Sunday, July 24, 2022.)

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