WASHINGTON – World leaders swiftly condemned the Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian port, a dramatic revelation amid a U.N.-brokered deal that secured a sea corridor for grains and other foodstuff exports.
A day prior, representatives from the U.N., Turkey, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to reopen three Ukrainian ports, an apparent breakthrough as the Kremlin’s war on its ex-Soviet neighbor marches into its fifth month.
The deal, signed in Istanbul and set to be implemented in the next few weeks, follows a months-long blockade of dozens of Ukrainian ports sprinkled along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
The strike on Odesa, Ukraine’s largest port, illustrates yet another anxious turn in fruitless efforts to mitigate a mounting global food crisis.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia “predictably worthless” on the heels of the attack.
“The ink has not had time to dry out, yet there are two vile provocations: attack on a seaport in Odesa and a statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry that Ukraine ports are “dangerous for shipping,” wrote Mykhailo Podolyak on Twitter.
“Not even 24 hours had passed before these grain terminals, the territory of Odesa and the port were struck,” Zelenskyy told a U.S. delegation of lawmakers visiting Ukraine.
Among those visiting Zelenskyy, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Russian President Vladimir Putin “violated the spirit of that agreement with more missile strikes.”
“He simply cannot be trusted,” Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote in a statement.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. strongly condemns the Russian missile attack and said Russia bears responsibility for deepening the world’s food crisis.
The attack “undermines work of the U.N., Turkey and Ukraine to get critical food to world markets,” Blinken said in a statement.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “unequivocally” condemned the missile strike on the port.
“Full implementation [of the deal] by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative,” the U.N. chief wrote.
Bridget Brink, President Joe Biden’s Ambassador to Ukraine, urged the global community to hold Russia to account.
“The Kremlin continues to weaponize food. Russia must be held to account,” Brink wrote on Twitter.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called Russia’s missile strike on Odesa “reprehensible.”
“Striking a target crucial for grain export a day after the signature of Istanbul agreements is particularly reprehensible again demonstrates Russia’s total disregard for international law and commitments,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.
Spanish celebrity chef and restaurateur Jose Andres, who brought his humanitarian organization to Ukraine to alleviate the food crisis triggered by Russia’s war, also slammed the missile strikes on Odesa.
“Why are you attacking the grain that needs to be exported? Why? Stop please and let’s feed the world,” wrote the two-star Michelin chef and founder of the World Central Kitchen, a group dedicated to feeding vulnerable communities.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the missile strikes were “all you need to know about deals with Russia.”
“Today, Russian missiles hit the port of Odesa. That’s all you need to know about deals with Russia. The world must help Ukraine fight the aggressor,” she wrote.
— Reuters contributed to this report.