Russia issues Black Sea shipping warning while Ukraine denounces ‘hellish’ port attacks

Russia warned that as of Thursday (July 19) all ships bound for Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be considered potentially military cargo, as Kiev accused Moscow of conducting “hellish” night raids that damaged grain export infrastructure.

Russia has attacked the Odessa region for a second straight day after on Monday it canceled a year-old deal allowing safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

Ukraine, which wants to try to continue grain shipments from the Black Sea vital to the world’s food supply, announced on Wednesday that it would set up a temporary shipping route via Romania.

“Russian terrorists deliberately targeted the infrastructure of the grain deal,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the news app Telegram. “Every Russian missile is a blow not only to Ukraine, but to all people in the world who want a normal and safe life.”

According to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, ten civilians were injured, including a nine-year-old boy. Grain terminals were also damaged, as well as an industrial plant, warehouses, shopping centers, residential and administrative buildings, and cars.

Flames and smoke billowed from wrecked warehouses in video released by the Emergencies Ministry, which also showed an apartment block with shattered windows.

Russia said on Wednesday that after the end of the grain deal, from midnight Moscow time, it will consider all ships bound for Ukraine’s Black Sea ports as potential carriers of military cargo.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the flag states of ships calling at Ukrainian ports would be considered parties to the conflict on the Ukrainian side. The Department of Defense did not say what action it might take. It said Russia was also temporarily declaring southeastern and northwestern parts of the international waters of the Black Sea unsafe for shipping.

The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday that Russia’s exit from the deal threatens to increase global food insecurity and could push up food prices, particularly in poor countries. In Chicago, US wheat prices rose due to recent developments in the war.

President Vladimir Putin said Western nations had “completely distorted” the expired deal, but said Russia will return to it immediately if all the conditions for it are met.

“MASS REVENGE STRIKE”

On Tuesday, Russia said it had attacked military targets in two Ukrainian port cities overnight in what was described as “mass retaliation” for a blast that damaged its bridge to Crimea, the peninsula it captured from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine’s Air Force said on Wednesday that Russia had fired 63 missiles and drones across the country, mainly targeting infrastructure and military facilities in the Odessa region.

37 of them were shot down by the air defenses, it said, a lower proportion than is usual in attacks lasting months.

A significant part of the grain export infrastructure at the port of Chornomorsk, southwest of Odessa, was damaged, Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky said, adding that 60,000 tons of grain were destroyed.

The attack was “very violent, really massive,” said Serhiy Brachuk, spokesman for the Odessa military administration, in a voice message on his Telegram channel on Wednesday.

“It was one hell of a night,” he said.

Ukraine’s Southern Military Command said Russia has used supersonic missiles, including the Kh-22 designed to shoot down aircraft carriers, to hit Odessa port infrastructure.

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