World

Russian drone strikes hit Ukrainian port key to grain exports

A maintenance worker stands outside a damaged government building in Kyiv following Russian drone attacks (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A maintenance worker stands outside a damaged government building in Kyiv following Russian drone attacks (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) A maintenance worker stands outside a damaged government building in Kyiv following Russian drone attacks (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Russian drones hit a Ukrainian port city along the border with Romania causing significant damage and a huge fire at facilities that are key to Ukraine’s grain exports.

The attacks followed the end of a deal with Russia that had allowed Ukrainian shipments to world markets from the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Since scrapping the deal, Russia has hammered the country’s ports with strikes, compounding the blow to the key industry.

In the past two weeks, dozens of drones and missile attacks have targeted the port of Odesa and the region’s river ports, which are being used as alternative routes.

The head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, said the city of Izmail, on the Danube River that forms part of the Ukraine-Romania border, was hit in the strikes.

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Russia Ukraine War The drone attack in Odesa caused fires to break out (Telegram Channel of Odesa Region Governor Oleh Kiper/AP)

Video obtained by the Associated Press showed explosions and a large fire in the distance on the Danube, captured by fishers in Romania, a Nato member, on the other side of the river.

Three Ukrainian ports along the Danube are currently operating.

“The goal of the enemy was clearly the facilities of the ports and industrial infrastructure of the region,” Ukraine’s South operational command wrote in an update on Facebook.

As a result of the attack, a fire broke out at industrial and port facilities, and a grain lift was damaged.

Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said that about 40,000 metric tonnes of grain, which had been expected by countries in Africa, China and Israel, was damaged in the attack.

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Russia Ukraine War President Zelensky called on the world to respond after drone attacks caused damage to ports and grain facilities in the Odesa region (Telegram Channel of Odesa Region Governor Oleh Kiper/AP)

Separately, Ukraine’s air force intercepted 23 Iranian-made Shahed drones fired by Russia over the country overnight, mostly in Odesa and Kyiv, according to a morning update.All 10 drones fired at Kyiv were intercepted, said Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv City Administration. Numerous loud explosions were heard overnight as air defense systems were activated. Debris from felled drones hit three districts of the capital, damaging a non-residential building, Mr Popko said.

“Russian terrorists have once again targeted ports, grain facilities and global food security,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on Telegram. “The world must respond.”

He confirmed that some drones hit their targets, with the most “significant damage” in the south of Ukraine.

Ukraine is a major supplier of wheat, corn, vegetable oil and other agricultural products important to the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia where people are struggling with high food prices and hunger.

Ukraine can also export by road and rail through Europe, but those routes are more costly than going by the Black Sea and have stirred divisions among nearby countries.