Ukraine says Russian drone strike hits Danube port infrastructure

A firefighter works at a site damaged during Russia’s drone strikes in Ukraine’s Odesa region on September 3, 2023. News Service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Odesa Region/Manual via REUTERS Get license rights

Sept 3 (Reuters) – Russian drones struck Danube River port infrastructure critical to Ukraine’s grain exports, wounding at least two people in Sunday’s attack in the southern part of the Odesa region, Ukrainian officials said.

The UN has provided a safe route for the export of grains, oilseeds and vegetable oils of Kyiv through the Black Sea. And the Danube has become Ukraine’s main route for grain exports since July, after Russia pulled out of a deal brokered by Turkey.

Sunday’s attack came a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan were due to hold talks in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. Turkey is pushing to renew the grain deal.

Ukraine’s Southern Military Command said on social media that at least two civilians were injured in the early morning attack on what it called “Danube civil infrastructure”.

Ukraine’s air force said its air defense systems shot down 22 of 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia.

Officials did not provide details on which port facility was affected, but some Ukrainian media reported bombings at the port of Reni, one of Ukraine’s two largest ports on the Danube along with Ismail. The fire caused by the attack was quickly extinguished, the army said.

A group of Russian drones successfully attacked fuel depots in the port of Reni used by the Ukrainian military, the Russian Defense Ministry was quoted as saying.

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Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Renee and Ismail have been hit repeatedly by Russian drones in recent weeks.

“Russian terrorists continue to attack port infrastructure in the hope of provoking a food crisis and famine in the world,” Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote in a Telegram.

He posted a photo of a firefighter running water on the burning ruins of concrete structures.

The Black Sea Grains Agreement, reached in July 2022, aims to alleviate the global food crisis. Ukraine is a major producer of grains and oilseeds and disruptions to its exports after the outbreak of war in February last year pushed world food prices to record highs.

Russia has complained that it faces restrictions on its own food and fertilizer exports under the deal, and that not enough Ukrainian grain is going to countries that need it.

Lydia Kelly reports in Melbourne

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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