A grain terminal in Odesa, Ukraine

By Stefan J. Bos

July 25 2022

Explosions have rocked a critical Ukrainian port just a day after Kyiv and Moscow signed a landmark deal to allow the resumption of grain exports described as a “Beacon of Hope” for a hungry world. Saturday’s attack came a day after Russia and Ukraine signed an accord on grain exports.

Ukraine’s military confirmed that two Russian Kalibr missiles hit the strategic port city of Odesa early Saturday morning. Its southern command center added that air defense systems had shot down two more.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.  

But the blasts appeared to violate Friday’s food deal signed in Istanbul, Turkey, by Russia and Ukraine. Under the agreement, Russia pledged not to target ports while grain shipments are in transit.

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the attack showed Russia’s “total disregard” for international law and that the EU strongly condemns it.

Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s biggest grain producers. The United Nations-backed deal would enable Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods. Due to Russia’s invasion, these goods had been stuck in Black Sea ports.


U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the agreement “a beacon of hope” for millions of hungry people hit hard by massive increases in the price of food. “This is an agreement for the world. It will bring relief to developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine. And [this agreement is] to help stabilize food prices which were already at record levels even before the war, a true nightmare for developing countries,” he said.

However, Saturday’s attack on Odesa raised fears that food supplies could face further interruptions.  

The Red Cross has already said that over the past six months, prices for food have risen 187 percent in Sudan, 86 percent in Syria, and 60 percent in Yemen, to name a few countries.
Even before Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s port city of Odesa, there were already signs of tensions when Russia and Ukraine signed the agreement to restart grain exports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov wouldn’t even sit publicly at the same table. They signed separate, identical deals Friday, with Guterres and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar looking at the Istanbul ceremony.

Vatican News