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Wheat Prices Up Sharply After Strike On Odesa, Despite Moscow Denying Impact Of Attack

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service July 25, 2022

Wheat prices rose sharply on July 25 after Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian port of Odesa over the weekend despite claims by the Kremlin that the strike targeted military installations and would not affect grain exports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on July 25 that the two Kalibr missiles that landed near a pumping station at the Odesa port "exclusively" targeted military infrastructure and were "not connected with the agreement on the export of grain" reached on July 22 in Istanbul by Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations, and Turkey.

"This cannot and should not affect the start of shipment," Peskov told reporters.

However, wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade rose nearly 4 percent to $7.86 a bushel on July 25, regaining much of the ground lost after the signing of the agreement.

Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil, but Russia's invasion of the country and its naval blockade of Ukrainian ports have halted shipments.

That has caused global food prices to spike, leaving millions of people in impoverished countries at risk of hunger and sparking fears of social unrest.

The deal to reopen three Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports is valid for 120 days and targets monthly exports of 5 million tons.

A UN spokesman said all parties to the deal have reconfirmed their commitment, and the first ships carrying grain might move within a few days under the deal. A Joint Coordination Center will liaise with the shipping industry and publish detailed procedures for ships in the near future, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

In Ukraine, fighting continued unabated as Moscow's invasion entered its sixth month, with Russian troops shelling multiple locations in the north, south, and east amid indications that the Russian military, in addition to its personnel shortage, was also facing difficulties replacing or repairing hundreds of pieces of equipment damaged in combat.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on July 25 that Ukrainian forces have destroyed 50 Russian ammunition depots using U.S-supplied high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS).

"This cuts their (Russian) logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling," Reznikov said in televised comments.

Reznikov's remarks could not be independently verified.

Russia's Defense Ministry in turn said on July 25 that its forces had destroyed an ammunition depot for HIMARS in Bohdanovtsy, in Ukraine's Khmelnytskiy region.

Neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian claims could be independently confirmed.

Russia has previously said it has destroyed several of the HIMARS supplied to Ukraine by the West, in claims denied by Kyiv.

Reznikov on July 25 also said the first three Cheetah anti-aircraft missile systems from Germany are already in Ukraine.

Britain's Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on July 25 that "inconclusive" fighting is under way in the east and in the Kherson region that fell to the Russians early in the war.

The bulletin said scarce personnel resources make it difficult for Russian commanders to decide whether to beef up the offensive in the east or to bolster the defense in the west.

It added that on July 18, the British intelligence identified a Russian military vehicle refit and refurbishment facility near Barvinok, in Russia's Belgorod region, which is 10 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

"At least 300 damaged vehicles were present, including main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, and general support trucks," the update added.

In Moscow, the head of Russia's Investigative Committee said Russia has charged 92 members of the Ukrainian armed forces with crimes against humanity.

Aleksandr Bastrykin told government news site Rossiiskaya Gazeta that more than 1,300 criminal investigations had been launched.

Some 96 people, including 51 armed forces commanders, are wanted, he said.

The Ukrainians were involved in "crimes against the peace and security of humanity," he told the site.

Bastrykin's claims could not be independently verified and Ukraine has not commented.

Kyiv is also conducting its own investigations. Ukrainian authorities said earlier this month they were examining more than 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression allegedly committed by Russian forces since the start of the invasion on February 24.

The International Criminal Court has sent a team of investigators and forensics experts to Ukraine, which it has described as a "crime scene."

The Kremlin denies all war crimes, or that it has been targeting civilians.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, BBC, and AP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russia-invasion- shelling-kherson/31958273.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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