Ukraine says a Russian drone hit Danube port infrastructure

A firefighter works at a site hit during Russian drone attacks in Odessa region, Ukraine on September 3, 2023. Press service of Ukraine’s State Emergency Service in Odessa region/Handout via REUTERS Obtain licensing rights

Sep 3 (Reuters) – Russian drones bombed infrastructure at the Danube River port vital for Ukrainian grain exports, Ukrainian officials said, injuring at least two people in the attack on southern parts of the Odessa region on Sunday.

The Danube has been Ukraine’s main grain export route since July, when Russia withdrew from a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that gave Kiev exports of grain, oilseeds and vegetable oils safe passage through the Black Sea.

Sunday’s attack occurred a day before scheduled talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. Türkiye is pushing to revive the grain deal.

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

The Ukrainian Air Force said that air defense systems shot down 22 of the 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia.

Officials did not give details about the port that was bombed, but some Ukrainian media reported that there had been explosions in the port of Reni, which, along with Izmail, is one of Ukraine’s two main ports on the Danube. The military said the fire caused by the attack on the facility was quickly put out.

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The Interfax news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that a group of Russian drones successfully hit fuel depots in the port of Reni, which is used by the Ukrainian army.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.

Rene and Ismail have been repeatedly attacked 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,” wrote the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, Andriy Yermak, on the Telegram app.

He posted a picture of a firefighter directing water towards the rubble of burning 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 the cessation of its exports after the outbreak of war in February last year pushed global food prices to record levels.

Russia complained that its exports of food and fertilizers face obstacles under the agreement, and that not enough Ukrainian grain reaches countries in need.

(Reporting by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne and Pavel Politiuk in Kiev) Editing by Edwina Gibbs, William Mallard and Frances Kerry

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