The Russian military carried out overnight missile strikes on the southern region of Odesa, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, injuring four people and damaging port infrastructure as part of a broader effort to strangle the Ukrainian economy.
The Ukrainian southern military command said Russia used supersonic cruise missiles that hit a boardinghouse and a granary, in the second attack on the area in two days as Moscow continued to target the region’s ports and grain facilities.
Ukraine has been among the world’s biggest exporters of grain and a major supplier to parts of Africa and the Middle East. After Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea this summer, those exports plummeted, worsening global shortages and raising fears of famine, but Ukraine has since devised alternative routes, protecting a crucial source of income during the war.
Missile debris and the blast wave from the strikes also caused a fire in a garage and damaged several apartment buildings, the military said in a post on the Telegram messaging app, which included photographs of smashed windows and collapsed building walls. The injuries were caused by broken glass, said Oleh Kiper, the governor of the Odesa region.
Ukrainian officials did not specify which areas were hit, but local Ukrainian news media reported that strikes landed in the port city of Chornomorsk, just outside Odesa. The Russian military did not immediately comment on the strikes.
Moscow pulled out of a deal in July that had allowed for the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea during the war, and since then, Russian forces have regularly struck Ukraine’s ports with missiles and drones in an attempt to squeeze its trade with the rest of the world.
Odesa, home to the country’s busiest ports, has been particularly hard hit, with extensive damage to its infrastructure. A day earlier, Russian drones hit a grain silo near the city of Izmail, also in the Odesa region. Nine trucks caught fire at the site, Mr. Kiper wrote on Telegram.
To try to get exports of grain and other goods moving again, Kyiv established an alternative corridor that calls for ships to hug the western coast of the Black Sea, providing some degree of security by moving in the territorial waters of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, all NATO members.
Moscow warned just after it pulled out of the deal that it would consider any ship approaching a Ukrainian port to be a potential military threat, but several cargo vessels have sailed along the new route without incident in recent weeks.
As of Wednesday, another 12 ships were ready to enter the corridor, according to the Ukrainian Navy. The route’s initial success has highlighted Ukraine’s ability to secure control over part of the Black Sea’s disputed waters.
Still, that has not stopped Russian forces from pounding the ports where the ships dock. Chornomorsk, the city that was reportedly hit on Saturday, has harbored several ships carrying grain and other agricultural products through the corridor.