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Ukraine says Russian missiles hit Odesa, dealing blow to grain export deal

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KYIV — Russian missiles hit infrastructure in Odesa in southern Ukraine on Saturday, the Ukrainian military said, dealing a blow to a deal signed on Friday to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports.

The landmark deal signed by Moscow and Kyiv on Friday would allow certain exports to be shipped from Black Sea ports, including the hub of Odesa.

“The enemy attacked the Odesa sea trade port with Kalibr cruise missiles,” the Operational Command South wrote on Telegram app. Two missiles infrastructure at the port, while another two were shot down by air defense forces, it said.

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A blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia’s Black Sea fleet since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbor has trapped tens of millions of tonnes of grain and stranded many ships. This has worsened global supply chain bottlenecks and, along with Western sanctions on Russia, stoked food and energy price inflation.

Friday’s export deal seeks to avert famine among tens of millions of people in poorer nations by injecting more wheat, sunflower oil, fertilizer and other products into world markets including for humanitarian needs, partly at lower prices.

Under the plan signed on Friday, Ukrainian officials would guide ships through safe channels across mined waters to three ports, including Odesa, where they would be loaded with grain.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the crisis, blaming sanctions for slowing its own food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its Black Sea ports.

Senior U.N. officials, briefing reporters on Friday, said the deal was expected to be fully operational in a few weeks and would restore grain shipments from the three reopened ports to pre-war levels of 5 million tonnes a month.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux Writing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen Editing by Frances Kerry)

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