Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs the supervisory board meeting of the Presidential Forum ‘Russia – Land of Opportunities’ at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 20, 2022.
Mikhail Tereshchenko | Sputnik | via Reuters
WASHINGTON – World leaders were quick to condemn the Russian missile attack on a Ukrainian port, a dramatic revelation amid a UN-brokered deal that secured a sea corridor for grain and other food exports.
A day earlier, officials from the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to reopen three Ukrainian ports, an apparent breakthrough as the Kremlin’s war against its former Soviet neighbor marches into its fifth month.
The deal, which was signed in Istanbul and is set to be implemented over the next few weeks, follows a months-long blockade of dozens of Ukrainian ports along the Azov and Black Seas.
The strike in Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port, illustrates another fearful turn in unsuccessful efforts to mitigate a deepening global food crisis.
A general view shows a fire truck at the scene of a burning building after shelling as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues at a location indicated as Odessa, Ukraine, in this image taken from social media and taken on July 19 was released in 2022.
State Emergency Service of Ukraine | Via Reuters
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia “predictably worthless” after the attack.
“The ink didn’t have time to dry, but there are two heinous provocations: attack on a seaport in Odessa and a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry that Ukrainian ports are “dangerous for shipping,” wrote Mykhailo Podolyak on Twitter.
“Not even 24 hours had passed before these grain terminals, the Odessa region and the port were attacked,” Zelenskyi told a US delegation of lawmakers visiting Ukraine.
Among those who visited Zelenskyy, MP Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “violated the spirit of this agreement with more rocket attacks.”
“He just can’t be trusted,” Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote in a statement.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US strongly condemned the Russian missile attack and said Russia bears responsibility for worsening the global food crisis.
The attack “undermines the work of the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine to get essential food products to world markets,” Blinken said in a statement.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the rocket attack on the port “unequivocally”.
“Fully implemented [of the deal] by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative,” wrote the UN chief.
Bridget Brink, President Joe Biden’s ambassador to Ukraine, called on the world community to hold Russia accountable.
“The Kremlin continues to arm food. Russia must be held accountable,” Brink wrote on Twitter.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the Russian missile attack on Odessa “reprehensible”.
“The hitting of a key grain export target a day after the Istanbul Accords were signed is particularly reprehensible and demonstrates once again Russia’s total disregard for international law and obligations,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.
Spanish celebrity chef and restaurateur Jose Andres, who brought his humanitarian organization to Ukraine to help ease the food crisis sparked by Russia’s war, also criticized the rocket attacks on Odessa.
“Why are you attacking the grain that needs to be exported? Why? Please stop and let’s feed the world,” wrote the two-Michelin-starred chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, a group dedicated to feeding vulnerable communities.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the missile strikes are “everything there is to know about deals with Russia”.
“Today Russian missiles hit the port of Odessa. That’s all you need to know about doing business with Russia. The world must help Ukraine fight the aggressor,” she wrote.
— Reuters contributed to this report.