Targeted rocket strike kills Ukrainian shipping and grain boss

A Russian rocket strike on the port city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, killed Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, 74, the founder and CEO of Nibulon, a leading Ukrainian grain producer. A rocket hit the bedroom of Vadaturskyi, who lived in a luxury mansion in Mykolaiv.

Vadaturskyi’s Nibulon is the only vertically-integrated agricultural producer in Ukraine to own its own shipping fleet. The firm invested heavily in river shipping capacity and port infrastructure, and before the invasion it had plans in the works for a new deepwater port southwest of Kherson.

The company expanded with the acquisition of the Lyman Shipbuilding Plant in Mykolaiv in 2012; (now the Nibulon Shipyard), a facility which has built multiple vessels for its parent company and for external customers.

The Mykolaiv region remains under Ukrainian control, despite repeated Russian attacks in the early weeks of the invasion, but it is still within range of Russian artillery.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said that a heavy barrage of Russian fire struck the city in the early hours of Sunday morning local time on July 31st . Multiple civilian buildings were hit, including Vadaturskyi’s mansion. The executive and his wife were both killed in the explosion. The strike hit Vadaturskyi’s bedroom, according to Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, who accused Russian forces of intentionally targeting the mansion in a “well-thought-out and organized premeditated murder.”

Separately, in Russian-occupied Sevastopol, a the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were hit on Sunday July 31st, although the nature of the strike remains uncertain. Initially Russia had claimed that the headquarters were hit by a Ukrainian UAV. Ukraine denied this, and claimed that the move was a “Russian provocation”. However, since the attack forced the cancellation of the Navy Day parade in Sevastopol, that did not seem likely.

Later on Sunday the Russian narrative changed. Regional governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said that the attack was via an improvised drone munition, injuring six employees of the fleet. Russian politician Olga Kovitidi told state-owned RIA Novosti that the strike had originated locally, which suggested that it was a partisan attack. Militarized recreational drones are widely used by Ukrainian forces, and high levels of partisan activity have been reported in neighbouring Kherson Oblast.