Russia Targets Odesa for 4th Straight Night, Destroying Tons of Food Supplies

July 21, 2023

Russia attacked the major Ukrainian port city of Odesa for a fourth straight night overnight Thursday into Friday, targeting the global grain supply. 

According to the Odesa regional military administration, two people were injured when missiles hit grain terminals in that city, destroying 100 tons of peas and 20 tons of barley.

Explosions reportedly began around 2am local time Friday, followed by the buzzing sounds of drones and a near continuous barrage of strikes that lasted at least 90 minutes. 

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had used almost 70 missiles of various types and almost 90 Shahed drones in just four days in attacks on southern Ukraine. Those numbers do not include the early-morning Friday attack.

Ukraine’s Air Force said it destroyed just five of the 19 cruise missiles fired in the latest barrage, a significantly lower success rate compared to previous attacks that targeted Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said the rate disparity was due to the lack of more advanced defense systems in the southern part of the country.

“We need means, we need to reinforce the southern regions, our port cities, with means, in particular, against ballistic missiles,” said Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force Command. “Systems such as Patriot or SAMP-T could provide protection for this region.”

Ukraine received at least two Patriot systems in April, one from the U.S. and one from Germany. Ukrainian officials have not disclosed their locations, though they’ve previously confirmed that the weapons have been used to shoot down missiles over Kyiv.

The intensified attacks on Odesa and other southern Ukrainian cities began after Moscow vowed “retribution” for a deadly explosion Monday on the Kerch Bridge, the only direct access way from the annexed Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland. Ukrainian forces have claimed responsibility for that attack.

On Tuesday Russia withdrew from the 2022 U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative that allowed Ukraine to ship grain to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, raising fears of global food insecurity. Ukraine supplies 10% of the world wheat market, 15% of the corn market, and 13% of the barley market. 

“The idea that Putin would play roulette with the hungriest people in the world at the time of the greatest food crisis in our lifetimes is just deeply disturbing,” noted Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell condemned Russia’s targeting of grain storage facilities in Odesa and elsewhere as “barbarian.” 

And German Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock said during an EU meeting in Brussels this week, “The fact that the Russian president has canceled the grain agreement and is now bombing the port of Odessa is not only another attack on Ukraine, but an attack on the people, on the poorest people in the world.”

PHOTO: Odesa grain terminal

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