Russia is preparing for attacks on civilian ships in Black Sea
US approves $1.3 billion package of long-term military aid for Ukraine
At least 21 injured in third night of Russian air attacks
Kyiv, Ukraine: A third night of Russian air attacks pounded Ukraine’s southern cities, including Odesa, where at least two people were killed, Ukrainian officials said Thursday.
Russia’s attacks on southern Ukraine have become more intense this week, after President Vladimir Putin pulled Russia out of a wartime deal that allowed Ukraine to send grain to countries facing the threat of hunger.
The strikes came one day after an intense Russian bombardment using drones and missiles damaged critical port infrastructure in Odesa, including grain and oil terminals. The attack destroyed at least 60,000 tons of grain.
Moscow had also vowed “retribution” earlier this week for an attack that damaged a crucial bridge between Russia and the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Russian officials blamed that strike on Ukraine.
Odesa Governor Oleh Kiper said Ukrainian air defenses destroyed all of the 12 Iranian-made Shahed drones and two Kalibr missiles that targeted Odesa.
But he added that air defense systems were unable to shoot down some incoming missiles, in particular the X-22 and Onyx types. He didn’t say how many missiles got through.
The two people who died in Odesa were a 21-year-old security guard and another person who was found dead under rubble during a search and rescue operation, according to Kiper.
In Mykolaiv, another southern city close to the Black Sea, at least 19 people were injured overnight, the region’s Governor Vitalii Kim said in a statement on Telegram.
Russian strikes partially destroyed a three-story building and caused a fire that affected an area of 450 square meters and burned for hours. Two people were hospitalized, including a child, according to the regional governor.
The White House on Wednesday warned that the Russian military is preparing for possible attacks on civilian shipping vessels in the Black Sea. Since leaving the Black Sea Grain Deal this week, Russia has already struck Ukraine’s grain export ports in Odesa with missile and drone attacks. Some 60,000 tons of grain were destroyed in the attacks.
The European Union’s foreign affairs chief condemned Russia’s targeting of grain storage facilities.
“More than 60,000 tons of grain has been burned,” Josep Borrell said in Brussels on Thursday, commenting on Moscow’s recent tactics. “So not only are they withdrawing from the grain agreement, but they are burning the grain.”
The Pentagon announced a new $1.3 billion package of long-term military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, including four air defense systems and an undisclosed number of drones.
The new assistance comes on the heels of a meeting Tuesday by defense and military leaders from around the globe to discuss ongoing efforts to give Ukraine the weapons it needs in its battle to retake territory seized by Russian forces.
Included in the aid, which is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, will be funding for four National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, and munitions for them, as well as Phoenix Ghost and Switchblade drones.