Russia attacks farm storage facilities in Ukraine after days of bombarding port

Russian warship firing during naval drill in Black Sea
A Russian warship fires during a naval drill in the Black Sea.
(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
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Russia followed its withdrawal from a grain export deal by expanding its attacks from port infrastructure to farm storage buildings in Ukraine’s Odesa region Friday, while also practicing a Black Sea blockade.

Other Russian missiles damaged what officials described only as an “important infrastructure facility” southwest of the port city of Odesa, in what appeared to be part of an ongoing effort to cripple Ukraine’s food exports.

Attacks in recent days have put Odesa in Russia’s crosshairs after Moscow abandoned a wartime deal that allowed Ukraine to send grain through the key Black Sea port.


In the attack on the storage site, two low-flying cruise missiles hit and started a blaze, and then another missile struck during firefighting efforts, regional Gov. Oleh Kiper said. The barrage injured two people, damaged equipment and destroyed 110 tons of peas and 22 tons of barley, Kiper said.

Russia targeted critical grain export infrastructure after vowing to retaliate for an attack that damaged a crucial bridge between Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed.

“The enemy is continuing terror, and it’s undoubtedly related to the grain deal,” said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South.

Video appears to show Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for the first time since a short-lived rebellion against President Vladimir Putin.

July 20, 2023

Russia and Ukraine have announced that they will treat ships traveling to each other’s Black Sea ports as potential military targets.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin clarified the Defense Ministry’s announcement earlier this week that Moscow has declared wide areas in the Black Sea dangerous for shipping.

The ministry said it would consider incoming vessels as laden with weapons and treat the country of its flag as a participant in the conflict on the Ukrainian side.


Vershinin said the Russian navy will inspect the vessels to make sure they aren’t carrying military cargo before taking any other action.

“There is no longer a sea humanitarian corridor, there is a zone of increased military danger,” he told a news briefing.

Vershinin added that Russia will fulfill the needs of African countries despite the deal’s termination. President Vladimir Putin has promised to provide poor countries in Africa with free grain.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said the recent strikes against port and grain infrastructure and threats of escalation at sea “are likely a part of a Kremlin effort to leverage Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and [extract] extensive concessions from the West.”

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Western countries should address Russia’s demands in order to restore the Black Sea grain corridor.

“Russia has some expectations. If these are overcome, Russia is in favor of the active work of this grain corridor,” said Erdogan, who helped negotiate the deal. “We know that [Putin] has some expectations from Western countries. Western countries need to take action on this issue.”


In his first comments on the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine from the U.S., Putin claimed that Russia has not used cluster bombs in its war.

July 16, 2023

He reiterated he would talk to Putin by phone and hoped to meet him in Turkey next month.

In comments reported by state-run news agency Anadolu and other media, Erdogan warned that the end of the grain initiative would raise global food prices, increase famine and unleash new waves of migration.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he spoke with Erdogan by phone Friday, and they “coordinated efforts to restore the operation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”

“Unlocking the grain corridor is an absolute priority,” Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said the navy conducted drills that simulated action to seal off a section of the Black Sea. In the maneuvers, a missile boat fired anti-ship cruise missiles at a mock target.

The ministry also said it fired long-range sea-launched weapons on facilities “used for preparation of terror attacks against the Russian Federation involving drones,” adding that “all the designated targets have been hit.” It didn’t elaborate.

Biden ended the NATO summit by highlighting the Western alliance’s newfound unity in the face of Russian aggression. But the bloc is split over Ukraine’s membership.

July 12, 2023

Putin repeated his claim that Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive was failing, although he offered no evidence.


Putin, whose authority was shaken last month by a short-lived rebellion by a Russian mercenary force, told a meeting of his Security Council that the Ukrainian military had suffered massive losses and that the West was struggling to maintain supplies of weapons and ammunition.

Putin also spoke provocatively about Poland, alleging that Warsaw had formed a special military unit to ensure security in western Ukraine and had plans to meddle in Kyiv’s affairs.

In other developments, Zelensky announced the resignation of the country’s culture minister, suggesting that the ministry’s spending was misguided during wartime.

“Paving stones, city decorations and fountains can wait till after the victory,” he said.

The move follows a series of recent scandals related to the expenditure of local authorities across the country, such as the repair of a cobblestone road in Kyiv’s city center and a renovation of a city fountain in a western Ukrainian city.

Zelensky also fired Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain, Vadym Prystaiko, who was also ambassador to the International Maritime Organization.

Zelensky gave no reason for the dismissal, but Prystaiko had publicly criticized Zelensky on occasions.