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Russia attacks Ukraine grain port ahead of Putin-Erdogan talks

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Russia has launched a wave of drone attacks on one of Ukraine’s biggest grain exporting ports, hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were due to hold talks.

Ukraine’s Air Force early on Monday urged residents of Izmail port, one of the country’s two major grain-exporting facilities on the Danube River in the Odesa region, to seek shelter.

Odesa Governor Oleh Kiper later said 17 drones were downed over the southern region, but that the attack caused widespread damage to port infrastructure.

“17 drones were shot down by our air defense forces,” Kiper wrote on Telegram. “But, unfortunately, there are also hits. In several settlements of Izmail district, warehouses and production buildings, agricultural machinery and equipment of industrial enterprises were damaged.”

Kiper added that preliminary information indicated no casualties or injuries.

The drone assault came as Putin and Erdogan were to meet in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to hold talks on a Ukrainian grain export deal that helped ease a food crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The deal – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 – had allowed nearly 33 million metric tonnes (36 million tonnes) of grain and other commodities to leave three Ukrainian ports despite the Russian invasion.

But Moscow quit the agreement about six weeks ago, complaining that its food and fertiliser exports faced obstacles and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.

Since then, it has launched frequent attacks on the ports of the Danube River, which has emerged as Ukraine’s major route for exporting grain.

Monday’s attack – the scale of which was not immediately known – followed Russian attacks on Sunday on the other major Danube port of Reni, in which the port’s infrastructure was damaged and at least two people were injured.

Source: Aljazeera

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