Moscow says Odesa strike targeted US-supplied arms, not grain exports
Iran Press TV
Monday, 25 July 2022 10:29 AM
Russia says that western-supplied weapons were destroyed in a strike on the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Saturday.
Ukraine and its Western sponsors earlier claimed that Moscow had targeted grain exports in the city, but Russia's defense ministry said Monday the attack 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 Kiev regime," Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
"A Ukrainian army repair and upgrade plant has also been put out of order," the statement added following repeated vows by Moscow that the massive shipment of Western arms for Kiev forces will be actively targeted by the Russian military.
The statement came after the Saturday attack sparked an outcry from Kiev's US-led allies and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slamming it as "Russian barbarism" after the warring sides struck a Turkey-brokered deal to allow grain exports from the key export facility.
Zelensky further emphasized that the strikes on Odesa showed Moscow could not be trusted to keep its promises.
Ukrainian officials however confirmed that while grain was being stored in the port at the time of the strike, food stocks did not appear to have been hit.
Under the deal brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Odesa is one of three designated export hubs.
Moscow did not react to the reports about the Odesa strikes until Sunday, but Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stated earlier that Russia had denied carrying out the attack.
Ankara also declared immediately after the double cruise missile strikes that it had received assurances from Moscow that Russian forces were not responsible.
The strikes have cast a shadow over the milestone accord â€” that was hammered out over months of negotiations and signed in Istanbul â€” to relieve a global food crisis.
The development came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embarked on a tour of several countries in Africa and on his first stop in Egypt on Sunday sought to reassure Cairo that Russian grain supplies would continue.
Lavrov, who will visit Uganda, Ethiopia and Congo-Brazzaville on the tour, told his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry that Russia would meet grain orders.
"We confirmed the commitment of Russian exporters of cereal products to meet their orders in full," he said in a press conference.
Ukraine's Western allies, meanwhile, repeated their condemnation of Russia's military operation in the country following the Saturday strikes.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier described the Russian operation on Sunday as a war against European unity, saying: "We must not let ourselves be divided, we must not let the great work of a united Europe that we have begun so promisingly be destroyed."
Guterres, who presided over the signing ceremony on Friday, "unequivocally" condemned the Odesa strikes. Washington, meanwhile, said it "casts serious doubt" over Russia's commitment to the deal.
Huge quantities of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships as well as mines laid by Kiev forces to avert a feared amphibious assault.
Zelensky has declared that nearlly 20 million tons of produce from last year's harvest and the current crop would be exported under the agreement, estimating the value of Ukraine's grain stocks at around $10 billion.
Diplomats, however, expect grain to begin flowing in full swing only by mid-August.
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