A ruthless barrage of missiles targeting the Ukraine port city of Odesa has left the “Pearl by the Sea” in ruins and prompted the hurried exit of thousands of residents, including many whom had fled there to avoid fighting in the east.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative had allowed critical grain shipments from Odesa to sail through a Russian blockade bound for ports in Europe, Asia and Africa. But Russia, since pulling out of the deal a week ago, has brutally battered the elegant city known for its history, art, architecture and beaches.
Russia generally refrained from striking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine’s southern ports for the year the agreement was in effect, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest assessment of the war.
“Since Russia failed to renew the deal, the Kremlin likely feels less politically constrained, and is attempting to strike targets in Odesa because it believes Ukraine is storing military assets in these areas,” the assessment says. Russia’s strike campaign has been characterised by poor intelligence and a “dysfunctional targeting process,” the assessment says. Collateral damage has devastated the city, including the city’s first church. The Transfiguration Cathedral dates to the 1790s.
Days after the Russian invasion, Tetiana Khlapova moved to Odesa to escape the bombings that battered the eastern city of Kharkiv. Now she says she will ride out the war in Ireland.
“I am a refugee from Kharkiv. I endured that hell and came to sunny Odesa,” she said. “Here we are not protected for a single second, in any city. At any moment, you can just be hit, and your whole body will be torn apart.”
∎ Russian lawmakers approved legislation drastically increasing fines for draftees who fail to promptly report for service and banning them from leaving the country once a summons to report has been issued.
∎Russian President Vladimir Putin was politically paralyzed and failed to act decisively in the first hours of last month’s attempted mutiny by Wagner group mercenaries, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing Ukrainian and other security officials in Europe. No orders were issued for most of the day, the officials said. After negotiations, the coup was abandoned within 120 miles of Moscow.
∎ Revival of the grain deal is not possible because Russian conditions have not been met, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. The Kremlin wants trade obstacles removed that it says keeps Russia from exporting agricultural products and fertilizers.
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International Atomic Energy Agency experts discovered land mines around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Tuesday. Grossi said the mines were found in a restricted “buffer zone” that plant personnel cannot access. The team did not observe any within the inner site perimeter, he said, adding that detonation of the ones they did find should not affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems. Grossi said the experts have not yet been provided access to some areas of the plant, which has not generated power for several months.
“Having such explosives on the site is inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff,” Grossi said. “Our team has raised this specific finding with the (Russian plant operators) and they have been told that it is a military decision.”
Contributing: The Associated Press