By Anna Pruchnicka
(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Russian airstrikes and bombings have killed six people in Ukraine and caused “significant damage” to infrastructure at the Black Sea port of Odessa and grain storage facilities, Ukrainian officials said on Monday.
The airstrikes were part of a campaign that has made it harder for Ukraine’s top grain producer to export its products since Moscow terminated a deal in mid-July that had allowed shipments from the Black Sea and helped fight a global food crisis .
The attacks have intensified as Kiev continues a counteroffensive in the south and east that has made slow gains but could be bolstered by the delivery of U.S.-made Abrams tanks announced Monday by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“Another massive attack on Odessa!”, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said on X. “The attack resulted in the destruction of grain storage facilities and significant damage to the seaport.”
Oleh Kiper, governor of the Odessa region, said the affected facilities contained nearly 1,000 tons of grain and that the bodies of two men were found under the rubble of a warehouse where the grain was stored.
The Ukrainian military said 19 Iranian-made Shahed drones and 11 cruise missiles were shot down overnight, most of them aimed at the Odessa region. The destroyed grain storage facilities were hit by two supersonic missiles.
The Energy Ministry said damage to power grids had knocked out electricity to more than 1,000 consumers in the Odessa region, a reminder of airstrikes that at times left millions of Ukrainians without heat and light in the freezing cold last winter.
ATTACKS ON KHERSON
A 73-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman were killed in a separate airstrike on the town of Beryslav in the southern Kherson region, officials said.
The administrative head of the city of Kherson – the main center of the region – later said that two residents of the city had died and two had been injured in Russian shelling.
Russian forces abandoned the city of Kherson and the western bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region late last year, but regularly shell several areas from positions on the eastern bank.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the latest airstrike was “a pathetic attempt” in retaliation for Friday’s attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Navy.
Ukraine has relied heavily on Western weapons to defend itself against Russia and then respond in the counteroffensive that began in early June.
Announcing the latest weapons delivery, Zelenskiy said Abrams tanks had already arrived in Ukraine and were preparing for action.
“I am grateful to our allies for honoring the agreements! We are seeking new contracts and expanding our supply geography,” said Zelenskiy, who visited the United States last week.
Ukraine’s counterattack has included intensifying attacks that Moscow said hit targets in Russia and Crimea, the peninsula seized and annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that its air defenses shot down drones over the northwestern part of the Black Sea, Crimea and Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions. It did not mention deaths.
Kiev did not comment on the Russian reports and Moscow did not comment on the airstrikes in Ukraine.
Kiev says the airstrikes on ports and grain facilities are aimed at stopping the company from exporting grain to the world, and global traders are watching them closely for fear of further disruption to world markets.
Ukraine is increasingly shipping grain along the Danube River, by road and train, and has created a “humanitarian corridor” hugging the Black Sea coast to ship grain for African and Asian markets. The first two ships carrying grain to use the corridor left the Black Sea port of Chernomorsk last week.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Anna Pruchnicka; Editing by Michael Perry, Timothy Heritage and Mark Potter)