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 had 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 its 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, trying to protect 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 Ukrainian 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, according to Oleh Kiper, the head of the Odesa region’s military administration.
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 port city of Izmail, also in the Odesa region. Nine trucks caught fire at the site, Mr. Kiper wrote on Telegram.
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 reportedly hit on Saturday, has harbored several ships carrying grain and other agricultural products through the corridor.
Here’s what else is happening in the war:
North Korea: A “dramatic increase” in rail traffic between North Korea and Russia is a likely indication that Pyongyang is supplying arms and munitions to Moscow, according to a report published on Friday by Beyond Parallel, a research group created by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. The leaders of the two countries met last month, amid speculation that North Korea would send weapons to Moscow for its war in Ukraine.
The report said recent satellite imagery of North Korea’s Tumangang rail facility, at the border with Russia, showed “an unprecedented number” of freight rail cars. But the presence of tarps to cover containers made it impossible to conclusively identify what was being transported.
Ukrainian Attacks: The Ukrainian military shelled the Russian border region of Belgorod on Saturday morning, the local authorities said, killing one person. Vyacheslav Gladkov, the head of the Belgorod region, wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces had fired missiles targeting the village of Urazovo, a few miles from the border, damaging infrastructure and private households. The Ukrainian authorities have not confirmed the strikes, reflecting their general custom on attacks inside Russia.
In Moscow, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that air defenses had downed a Ukrainian drone flying toward the Russian capital, but reported “no damage or casualties.”
Russian Attacks: Russian shelling in southeastern Ukraine killed a woman and wounded two people, Yuri Malashko, the head of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on Saturday. Bilenke, the village that was targeted, is across the Dnipro River, near the front line.