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Russia strikes Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa hours after grain deals signed

Grain fields backdropped by a power plant in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Friday.
Nariman El-Mofty
Grain fields backdropped by a power plant in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Friday.

Updated July 23, 2022 at 3:56 PM ET

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine says Russia has attacked the Black Sea port city of Odesa less than 24 hours after the two countries agreed to a deal to resume shipments of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and mitigate a global food crisis.

Ukraine's military says Russia fired at least four missiles. Two were shot down by Ukraine's air defense system, and the other two hit an area around the port. Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said an unspecified number of people were injured in the attack.

Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesman compared the attack to "spitting in the face" of the United Nations — which worked with Turkey to broker the grain deal.

Friday's agreement included Russian assurances that it would not attack port facilities.

A Ukrainian official says the U.N. was warned about a need for security assurances

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center right, and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres lead a signing ceremony Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday.
Khalil Hamra / AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center right) and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres lead a signing ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday.

Taras Vysotsky, Ukraine's deputy agriculture minister, said the U.N. needs to clearly spell out what it means to violate the agreement.

"We stated before the deal that without fixed, reliable guarantees of security, it's not going to work," Vysotsky said.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres — who a day earlier had hailed the grain agreements as a "beacon of hope" — condemned the missile strikes.

"All parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets," he said in a statement. "These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe."

It was not clear in the statement what the U.N. or Turkey would do in response to the strike.

Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, called the strikes "outrageous," adding: "The Kremlin continues to weaponize food. Russia must be held to account."

Material from the AP was included in this report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.