Ukraine: Odessa again the target of Russian attacks, one killed in Crimea

Moscow has launched fresh attacks on port cities in southern Ukraine, including the key Black Sea port of Odessa, which has been targeted for the third night in a row since the end of a crucial deal for world food.

Another town in southern Ukraine, Mykolaiv, also came under attacks, with “eighteen wounded”, according to local governor Vitaly Kim, quoted on Telegram.

He said the fire broke out in a “garage and a three-story apartment building” in the shipbuilding town. “At least five residential buildings were damaged,” said the city’s mayor, Oleksandr Sienkiewicz.

In Odessa, about 100 km southwest of Mykolaiv, two people were hospitalized after the Russian attack caused “destruction in the center” of the city, said Oleg Kiper, the region’s governor.

Another Russian attack on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday targeted grain terminals and port infrastructure in the ports of Odessa and Chornomorsk. The silos and wharves of the port of Odessa were particularly damaged.

At least 12 people were wounded in the attack, which was carried out with Iran-made cruise missiles and explosive drones, according to the governor of the Odessa region, Oleg Kiper.

Sergei Aksionov, the local governor installed by Moscow, indicated on a telegram that in the northwest of the annexed peninsula of Crimea, “four administrative buildings were damaged”. “A teenager has died in this attack”, he added.

In eastern Crimea, a fire broke out on military land on Wednesday, accompanied by explosions that may have been one of the ammunition depots, according to Russian online media, necessitating the evacuation of more than 2,000 people from four nearby areas.

Kiev regularly attacks garrisons or stores of Russian equipment inside the lines, as far as the Crimean peninsula.

– Russian threats in the Black Sea –

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “Russia to be brought to justice” during his daily address on Wednesday, saying “everybody is worried about Russian terror.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev on July 19, 2023 (Pool/AFP – Claddagh Kilcoyne)

The Russian military, for its part, claimed to have only targeted “military industrial sites, fuel infrastructure and ammunition depots of the Ukrainian military”.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that from now on “all vessels headed to Ukrainian ports in the waters of the Black Sea will be considered as vessels potentially carrying military cargo”.

According to Washington, Moscow “could expand its targeting (…) to include attacks on civilian boats” and then “put the blame for these attacks on Ukraine”.

The Kremlin warned on Tuesday of new “risks” in the Black Sea after a grain deal signed under the auspices of the United Nations and Turkey expires in July 2022 and Moscow refuses to renew it, denouncing barriers to trade in its own fertilizers and food products.

Vladimir Putin assured on Wednesday that Russia is ready to return to the accord if its demands are met “in full”, accusing the West of using the question as a tool of “political blackmail”.

Ukraine: A sharp rise in wheat prices (AFP - Olivia Bugault)
Ukraine: A sharp rise in wheat prices (AFP – Olivia Bugault)

Wheat on Wednesday rose more than 8% to 253.75 euros per tonne in the European market as Russia blocked a safe “corridor” in the Black Sea from Monday that was negotiated to export millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain by cargo ship.

Over a year, the agreement enabled about 33 million tonnes of grain to leave Ukrainian ports, helping to stabilize world food prices and removing the risk of shortages.

– Patrol request by Kiev –

For its part, Kiev, which accuses Moscow of bombing its grain terminals, is now calling for the establishment of naval “military patrols” under UN orders and specifically with Turkey’s participation, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told AFP.

He has ruled out any talks with Moscow, which, according to him, are aimed at “ruining” Ukraine.

On the front, fighting is concentrated in eastern Ukraine where the two armies face each other. To the northeast, near Kupiansk, the Russians assured an advance of one kilometer.

According to presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine needs “200-300 additional armored vehicles, mainly tanks”, “60-80 F-16 aircraft” and “5-10 additional air defense systems” to break up the Russian lines, either the American Patriot or their French SAMP/T counterparts.

The Pentagon announced a new $1.3 billion military aid plan on Wednesday, which specifically includes four anti-aircraft defense systems, “to repel Russian aggression in the medium and long term”.

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