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Russia explains strike on major Ukrainian port

Russia says it hit a military target during a Saturday strike on the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. The attack came a day after the signing of a UN-brokered deal to unblock grain exports from Ukrainian ports.

“The Kalibr missiles destroyed part of the military infrastructure in the port of Odessa,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram on Sunday.

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The high-precision strike sent a Ukrainian military vessel to the bottom of the Black Sea, she added.

Zakharova was responding to comments by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who described the attack as “barbarism” and claimed “Russian Kalibr missiles destroyed the very possibility of statements” on the need for dialogue and any agreements with Moscow.

The Russian Defense Ministry has yet to officially comment on the explosions that rocked Odessa, which is a major trade hub in the southwest of Ukraine. Throughout the conflict with Kiev, Moscow has insisted that it does not target civilians, only Ukraine’s armed forces and military infrastructure.

Turkey, which helped broker the agreement on releasing Ukraine’s grain supplies, said it has received assurances from the Russian military that “they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and that they were examining the affair very closely and in detail.”

Kiev officials have claimed that four cruise missiles – two of which were intercepted – were used in the attack on Odessa. They allegedly targeted grain silos at the port, but failed to do significant damage.

Saturday’s incident came just a day after Russia and Ukraine, along with the UN and Turkey, signed a deal in Istanbul to unblock exports of grain, food, and fertilizers from Ukrainian ports that had been held up by the ongoing conflict.

READ MORE: Ukraine deal will help Russian exports – UN

As part of the agreement, which is seen as a way of averting a global food crisis, the UN also promised to help lift obstacles to the export of Russian grain, food and fertilizers created by international sanctions against Moscow.

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