Kyiv. Russia claimed, yesterday, that its missile attack the day before on the port of Odessa, which is vital for the export of Ukraine’s grain, destroyed Western weapons delivered to its enemy, in response to the wrath of Ukraine and its allies.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the attack on the country’s southwestern port as “Russian barbarism”, a day after the signing in Istanbul, Turkey of an agreement between the two countries to cancel the ban on grain exports.
Turkey, which brokered the deal, said on Saturday it had received assurances that Russia had “absolutely nothing to do with the attack” with the cruise missiles, according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
But the Russian Defense Ministry backed down on Sunday, saying the missiles had destroyed a Ukrainian military ship and weapons supplied by the United States.
“Long-range and high-precision missiles launched by the sea destroyed a Ukrainian military ship anchored in a port and boxes of anti-ship missiles delivered by the United States to the Kyiv regime,” it added.
According to the agreement reached under the auspices of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Odessa is one of three designated grain export hubs so that ships can transit through safe passages in the Black Sea.
Yesterday, the head of Russian diplomacy sought in Egypt to reassure his Arab partners about the future of grain exports.
“We affirmed the commitment of Russian exporters of grain products to respect all their obligations,” Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference after his talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
Lavrov, who will travel to Uganda, Ethiopia and Congo, added that “President Vladimir Putin indicated this during the last phone call with Egyptian President (Abdel-Fattah) Al-Sisi.”
The agreement should allow the export of 20-25 million tons of grain banned in Ukraine, as well as facilitate Russian agricultural exports, eliminating the risks of the global food crisis, especially in Africa.
Russia obtained assurances that Western sanctions would not be applied, directly or indirectly, to its exports of agricultural products and fertilizers.
“The (UN) Secretary-General bears the responsibility to end the illegal restrictions imposed by the United States and the European Union on (Russian) logistical and financial chains,” Lavrov said in the Egyptian capital on Sunday.
For Lavrov, “the crisis was aggravated by illegal Western sanctions against Russia.”
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