Russia says attack on Ukrainian port hit military targets

KYIV, UKRAINE (AP) — Russian Defense Ministry officials insisted Sunday that an air strike on the port of Odessa, less than a day after Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to resume grain shipments from there, it had only hit military targets.

“In the seaport of the city of Odessa, on the territory of a shipyard, high-precision long-range sea-based missiles destroyed a docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse with US-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles to the Kyiv regime,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a daily briefing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his late-night televised address on Saturday night that the Odessa attack “destroyed the very possibility” of dialogue with Russia.

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday that Moscow had attacked the Odessa seaport with four cruise missiles, two of which had been shot down by Ukrainian air defense.

Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said no grain storage facilities were hit. However, Turkey’s defense minister said he had received reports from Ukrainian authorities that one missile hit a grain silo while another landed nearby, although neither hit cargo at Odessa docks.

It was not immediately clear how the airstrike would affect plans to resume shipping Ukrainian grain by sea in secure corridors from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

Russia and Ukraine signed identical agreements with the UN and Turkey in Istanbul on Friday aimed at clearing the way for the shipment of millions of tons of desperately needed grain from Ukraine, as well as for the export of Russian grain and fertilizer. Senior UN officials expressed hope the deal would end a months-long standoff sparked by war in Ukraine that threatens food security around the world.

The deal, obtained by The Associated Press, committed both Kyiv and Moscow to refrain from carrying out attacks on the three Black Sea ports.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian shelling continued to kill and wound civilians in southern and eastern Ukraine.

The governor of the eastern Donetsk region, one of two that make up Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbas and a key focus of Russia’s offensive, said two civilians had been killed and two more wounded in the past 24 hours.

The UK military reported Sunday morning in its daily intelligence update that Russia was making “minimal progress” in its ongoing offensive in Donbas, which it said remained small-scale and focused on the town of Bakhmut. in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine.

Ukraine’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 fighting Ukrainian defenders for control of a nearby thermal plant.

In southern Ukraine, regional officials said at least five civilians were wounded by Russian shells in the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“In addition, as a result of the scattering of ammunition and its fragments, fires broke out in open areas of the city,” said Vitaly Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region.

In other developments:

— A Washington-based think tank says Ukrainian forces are likely preparing to launch or have launched a counteroffensive in the Kherson region.

The Institute for the Study of War quoted Kherson oblast administration adviser Serhiy Khlan as saying that Ukrainian forces have seized unspecified settlements in the region, but have called on Ukrainian civilians to keep quiet about the progress of the counteroffensive until the Ukrainian authorities release official statements.

ISW notes that open source information on any progress by the Ukrainian troops “will likely be limited and lag behind events.”

— Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials as his country seeks to break diplomatic isolation and Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Lavrov landed in Cairo on Saturday night, the first leg of his trip to Africa that will also include stops in Ethiopia, Uganda and the Congo, according to Russian state television RT.

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