Russia on Sunday said that attacks it launched on the Ukrainian port of Odesa only hit military targets, including a stockpile of US-provided Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The strikes were launched on Saturday, one day after Russia and Ukraine signed a deal to facilitate grain exports from Ukrainian ports.
“In the seaport in the city of Odesa, on the territory of a shipyard, sea-based high-precision long-range missiles destroyed a docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse with Harpoon anti-ship missiles supplied by the US to the Kyiv regime,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
The strikes came after a Ukrainian military official said Ukraine was preparing to use Western-provided anti-ship missiles to target the Russian Black Sea fleet.
For their part, Ukrainian officials said Russia launched four missiles at Odesa, and that two were intercepted. The Ukrainian military said the strikes didn’t cause significant damage and that no grain storage facilities were hit.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strikes “destroyed the very possibility” of dialogue with Moscow, but other Ukrainian officials said Kyiv was still committed to the grain deal it signed on Friday. “We continue technical preparations for the launch of exports of agricultural products from our ports,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.
Under the deal that was brokered by Turkey, Ukraine will escort ships carrying grain out of its heavily mined ports. The shipments will be overseen by a coordination center that has been established in Istanbul that will include representatives from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN.
The coordination center will also oversee the inspection of the vessels leaving Ukraine’s ports. The Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday that the coordination center is working to begin the export of Ukrainian grain as soon as possible.