Russia said Sunday that its missile barrage on a Ukrainian port central to a freshly-inked grain export deal had destroyed Western-supplied weapons, after the attack sparked an outcry from Ukraine‘s allies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Saturday’s strike on the Odessa port — which came just one day after the warring sides struck a deal to resume exports from the facility — as “Russian barbarism”.
Turkey helped broker the accord and said immediately after the double cruise missile hits that it had received assurances from Moscow that Russian forces were not responsible.
But Russia’s defense ministry rolled back on the denial Sunday, saying the strikes had destroyed a Ukrainian military vessel and arms delivered by Washington.
“High-precision, long-range missiles launched from the sea destroyed a docked Ukrainian warship and a stockpile of anti-ship missiles delivered by the United States to the Kyiv regime,” it said.
“A Ukrainian army repair and upgrade plant has also been put out of order.”
The port attack has cast a shadow over the milestone agreement aimed at relieving a global food crisis that was hammered out over months of negotiations and signed in Istanbul.
Zelensky said the strikes on Odessa showed Moscow could not be trusted to keep its promises and that dialogue with Moscow was becoming increasingly untenable.
“This apparent Russian barbarism brings us even closer to obtaining the very weapons we need for our victory,” Zelensky said in a late-night address to the nation.
Under the deal brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Odessa is one of three designated export hubs.