Ukraine says it intercepted most of the Russian volleys, but Odesa port infrastructure was damaged
Rocket debris reportedly falls on resident of Odesa, Ukraine
Mykola and Valentyna were abruptly awoken when apparent debris from a rocket crashed through their roof overnight in Odesa, Ukraine, injuring the 74-year-old Mykola. Neighbours rushed to free him from the rubble, and doctors say he should recover.
Russia struck Ukraine's port of Odesa with missiles and drones on Tuesday, a day after pulling out of a United Nations-backed deal to let Kyiv export grain, and Ukrainian officials said Moscow was attempting to go back on the offensive in the east.
Russia said it hit fuel storage facilities in Odesa and a plant making seaborne drones there, as part of "mass revenge strikes" in retaliation for attacks by Ukraine that knocked out its road bridge to the occupied Crimean peninsula.
Shortly after the bridge was hit on Monday, Moscow pulled out of the year-old UN-brokered grain export deal, although it denied the two events were linked. The United Nations said the end of the pact risked creating hunger around the world.
Russia's overnight attacks on Ukraine's ports were "further proof that the country-terrorist wants to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries that depend on Ukrainian food exports," Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's presidential staff, said on Telegram.
Ukraine's air force said six Kalibr missiles and 31 out of 36 drones were shot down, mostly over the coastal Odesa and Mykolaiv regions in the south.
Ukraine's southern operational military command said falling debris and blast waves damaged several homes and unspecified port infrastructure in Odesa, with an elderly man injured at his residence. Local authorities in Mykolaiv, another port, described a serious fire there.
Moscow, for its part, said it had foiled a Ukrainian drone strike on Crimea, with no major damage on the ground. It said a single lane of road traffic had reopened on the Crimea bridge.
Black Sea passage risky without deal
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive last month and has recaptured some villages in the south and territory around the ruined city of Bakhmut in the east, but has yet to attempt a major breakthrough across heavily defended Russian lines.
Ukrainian commanders said Russian forces were now attempting to return to the offensive north of Bakhmut in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, along a strip of the front line in territory recaptured by Ukraine last year.
The Black Sea grain export deal brokered a year ago by Turkey and the United Nations was one of the only diplomatic successes of the war, lifting a de facto Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and heading off a global food emergency.
Ukraine and Russia are both among the world's biggest exporters of grain and other foodstuffs. If Ukrainian grain is again blocked from the market, prices could soar around the world, hitting the poorest countries hardest.
Russia says it could return to the grain deal, but only if its demands are met for rules to be eased for its own exports of food and fertilizer. Western countries call that an attempt to use leverage over food supplies to force a weakening in financial sanctions, which already provide exceptions to allow Russia to sell food.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that the sponsors of the deal, Turkey and the UN, could still help Ukraine maintain a safe sea corridor and inspect vessels.
Russia ending Ukraine grain deal that helped prevent world food shortage
Russia says it will let a wartime deal that allows Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea to expire. The UN says the arrangement helped keep food prices down and feed the world's poorest countries.
But the Kremlin warned on Tuesday that attempts to ship grain from Black Sea ports without security guarantees from Russia would carry risks.
"We're talking about an area that's close to a war zone…. Without the appropriate security guarantees, certain risks arise there. So if something is formalized without Russia, these risks should be taken into account," said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Any attempt to reopen Ukrainian grain shipments without Russia's participation would probably depend on insurance companies agreeing to provide coverage. Industry sources have told Reuters they are considering the implications.
Ukraine's counteroffensive has made limited gains near Bakhmut and along two major axes in the south, but its new assault force equipped with billions of dollars worth of new Western weapons and ammunition has yet to confront the main Russian defensive line.
Kyiv says it is deliberately advancing slowly to avoid high casualties crossing fortified defensive lines strewn with landmines, and is focused for now on degrading Russia's logistics and command. In recent days, Ukrainian commanders have also said they are fending off an attempt by Moscow to mount a new offensive of its own in the northeast.
"For two days running, the enemy has been actively on the offensive in the Kupiansk sector in Kharkiv region," Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Telegram.
"We are defending. Heavy fighting is going on and the positions of both sides change dynamically several times a day."
Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine's eastern grouping of forces, said the Russian military had amassed more than 100,000 troops and more than 900 tanks in the area.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports of the battlefield in the area.
Meanwhile, Russia's parliament on Tuesday extended the maximum age at which men can be mobilized to serve in the army by at least five years.
The new law passed in the Duma means that those from this reserve with the highest ranks can now be called back into service up to the age of 70 rather than 65, other senior ranks up to 65, junior officers up to 60 and all others up to the age of 55 rather than 45.
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