Russian missiles hit Odesa agricultural facility

Russia launched a combined drone and missile attack on Ukraine on Sunday September 17th, mainly hitting the southern parts of the Odesa region. An agriculture facility there was struck.

Russia launched six Shahed drones and 10 cruise missiles. Ukraine’s Air Force said that it destroyed the drones and six of the missiles before they hit their target.

The attack followed Ukraine’s statement on Saturday that two cargo vessels arrived there to use a temporary corridor to sail into Black Sea ports to load grain destined for Egypt and Israel.

“Fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft missile units, mobile fire groups and other means of attack were involved in repelling the air attack,” the Air Force said.

Odesa region governor Oleh Kiper said on social media that a grain silo and agricultural fields were damaged in Berezivskiy district in the eastern part of the region, but there had been no casualties.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Ukraine has already exported more grain via Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta than it did in all of 2022, although volumes have fallen recently. Attacks by Russia on Ukraine’s Danube ports have caused Ukrainian exporters to resort instead to routes by road and rail. Ukraine shipped 9.2m tonnes of grain through Constanta between January and August 2023, the port authority told Reuters.

However, the pace has slowed in the past month.

Constanta is now Ukraine’s largest alternative export route, with grains arriving by road, rail or barge across the Danube.

Constanta Port data showed that 8.1m tonnes of Ukrainian grain left the port in the first seven months of this year, while in 2022 Ukraine exported 8.6m tonnes through Constanta. Romania has said it aims to double to 4m tonnes the monthly transit capacity of Ukrainian grain. It said that investment in infrastructure was ongoing.

Constanta traditionally handles Romania’s crop exports and those of its landlocked neighbours, including Hungary and Serbia. Overall the port shipped 22.2m tonnes of grains in the first eight months, the authority said, and is poised to exceed its annual record of about 25m tonnes.

Last Friday September 15th Romanian Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu met Ukrainian, Moldovan, European Commission and US representatives in Constanta to discuss ways to boost transit. Romania is one of five eastern EU countries – alongside Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – that saw a surge in Ukrainian grain imports since the Russian invasion in February 2022, which distorted local markets and prompted protests from farmers. That led the EU to approve temporary trade restrictions, but Brussels late last week declined to extend the ban.