Russia targets key Ukraine Black Sea port of Odesa, a day after halting grain export deal

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BY FELIPE DANA

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces shot down scores of exploding drones and six cruise missiles from a pre-dawn Russian attack on the port of Odesa on Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities said, a day after Moscow broke off a deal that had allowed Kyiv to ship vital grain supplies from the Black Sea city during the war.

The Russians first sought to wear down Ukraine’s air defenses with the drones and then targeted Odesa with six Kalibr cruise missiles, the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command said.

All six missiles and 25 drones were shot down by air defenses in the Odesa region and other areas in the south but their debris and shock waves damaged some port facilities and a few residential buildings, injuring an elderly man at his home, officials said.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said the attack showed the Kremlin is ready to endanger the lives of millions of people around the world who need Ukrainian grain exports. Hunger is a growing threat in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and high food prices have pushed more people into poverty.

“The world must realize that the goal of the Russian Federation is hunger and killing people,” Yermak said. “They need waves of refugees. They want to weaken the West with this.”

The United Nations and Ukraine’s Western allies slammed Moscow for halting the Black Sea Grain Initiative, saying it put many lives in peril.

The Kremlin said the agreement would be suspended until Moscow’s demands to lift restrictions on exports of Russian food and fertilizer to the world are met.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday its forces had foiled a Ukrainian attack on occupied Crimea using 28 drones.

The ministry said 17 of the attacking drones were shot down by air defenses and 11 others were jammed by electronic warfare means and crashed. It said there was no damage or casualties.

The reported attack came a day after the Kremlin blamed Ukraine for striking a bridge in Crimea that links Russia to Moscow-annexed Crimea and is a key supply route for Kremlin forces in the war.

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