The 511th day of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has passed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

For the second night in a row, Russia has attacked Odessa with airstrikes, but Ukrainian officials said the important port will not be intimidated and will carry on with its work to export grains.

According to Kiev’s military administration, air defence systems were also working to thwart a Russian attack, which was announced on the Telegram channel. A witness for Reuters heard explosions and saw smoke rising close to Kiev.

Oleh Kiper, the governor of the Odessa region, posted on social media that air defence systems were working to thwart the Russian air attack and urged locals to remain in shelters.

The attacks on Odesa, one of Ukraine’s main ports for exporting grain, followed a pledge of retaliation by Russia after a blast on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula on Monday that Moscow blamed on Ukraine.

“[They’re] are trying to scare the whole world, especially those who want to work for the grain corridor … Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations,” Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odessa military administration, said in a voice message on his Telegram channel.

Starting shortly after midnight on Wednesday, air raid warnings were in effect throughout the entirety of eastern Ukraine.

Military bloggers who supported the Kremlin claimed that the attacks were “massive” and that Moscow was attacking Odesa and other areas with a combination of drones and missiles.

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1955 GMT – Russia warns of Black Sea risks after grain deal exit

Russia has refused to extend a crucial agreement allowing safe passage for cargo ships from Ukrainian ports, raising concerns about the future of grain exports via the Black Sea.

The warning was issued after Ukraine reported that a Russian airstrike overnight had damaged infrastructure at the southern port of Odesa, one of the major grain transit hubs covered by the agreement reached with Turkey and the UN.

According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, “certain risks arise here [in the Black Sea] without adequate security guarantees.”

Were a new arrangement to allow for exports “formalised without Russia, then these risks should be taken into account”, he said.

The Kremlin said it was exiting the deal, after months of complaining that elements of the agreement allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured.




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