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Ukraine: Russian airstrikes on Odessa injure 6, destroy 60,000 tons of grain

A Russian strike on the port city of Odessa injured six people and damaged critical infrastructure at the Chornomorsk port, which is a crucial to Ukrainian agricultural exports. Photo Courtesy of Ukrainian Ministry for Communities Territories and Infrastructure Development.
1 of 4 | A Russian strike on the port city of Odessa injured six people and damaged critical infrastructure at the Chornomorsk port, which is a crucial to Ukrainian agricultural exports. Photo Courtesy of Ukrainian Ministry for Communities Territories and Infrastructure Development.

July 19 (UPI) -- Russia launched a wave of missile and drone attacks overnight on civilian and strategic targets in and around Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa, effectively destroying 60,000 tons of grain at the Chornomorsk port, according to Ukrainian officials.

At least six people were injured in the attack, while apartments, cars and critical infrastructure were damaged.

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"On the night of July 18 and 19, Russia fired at port infrastructure facilities involved in the Grain Initiative. The aggressor once again proved that human values are an empty sound for him, there was no trust in his words," said Ukrainian Minster of Agrarian Policy and Food Mykola Solskyi.

Solskyi says it could take up to a year to repair the port's grain export infrastructure.

"The port of Chornomorsk also destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, which was supposed to be loaded onto a large-tonnage vessel and send through the grain corridor 60 days ago," Solskyi said.

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Ukrainian officials denounced the strikes as an attack on Ukraine and the broader world.

"The attack on grain terminals is an aggressive act against the world. The goal of Russian actions is to disrupt grain supply routes to global markets. This terrorist state is not only at war with Ukraine but also with the people of Africa and Asia, for whom this grain is a matter of survival," said Minister for Communities and Territories Development and Infrastructure of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov.

Ukrainian air defenses shot down 37 of 63 missiles and drones, with falling debris and flying glass injuring a worker at an industrial facility. Also injured were two civilians, including a 9-year-old boy, in a residential district of Odessa and two civilians in the resort town of Koblev, 37 miles to the east, Odessa regional military administration head Oleg Kiper said in a Telegram post.

Residents of apartments on the second floor of a badly damaged building in Odessa described the blast from a missile strike as being similar to "an earthquake."

"Two people were injured. They suffered light injuries caused by glass. And the entire facade, all floors, everything was damaged. There may be problems with the elevators," the manager of an 18-story apartment building told Ukrinform.

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The bombardment came as the Crimea peninsula came under drone attack and the Russian-installed administration was forced to close a major highway and evacuate more than 2,000 people after a blaze tore through a munitions dump at a nearby military base.

Crimea Gov. Sergei Aksyonov confirmed the fire and closure of the Tavrida Highway, which links the main cities on the peninsula but did not link the fire to the drones of which he said 18 had been downed by Russian air defenses.

"There was a fire on a military field. Investigators will find out the reasons," Aksyonov said.

No one has claimed responsibility so far. "We can neither confirm nor deny," Ukraine Defense Intelligence spokesman Andrii Yusov told Politico.

But according to Russian military bloggers, the fire could have been the result of strikes by Ukrainian-made Grim-2 or British Storm Shadow long-range missiles.

The apparent tit-for-tat attacks come two days after Moscow vowed to retaliate over an explosion Monday on the Crimean Bridge linking Russia with Crimea that killed a husband and wife and injured their daughter.

Russia said it was holding Kyiv responsible for the apparent attack, the second in nine months after the structure was severely damaged in a deadly blast in October that killed three people.

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