KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Two people were hospitalized on Sunday after a three-and-a-half-hour Russian drone attack on a port in Ukraine’s Odessa region, officials said.
The attack on the seaport of Reni comes a day before the Russian president Wladimir Putin is to meet with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss resuming food deliveries from Ukraine under a Black Sea Grains Agreement Moscow broke off in July.
Russian forces fired 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones along the Danube River in the early hours of Sunday, 22 of which were shot down by anti-aircraft missiles, Ukraine’s Air Force said on Telegram.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Russian Federation Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak described the attack as part of a Russian action to “provoke a food crisis and world hunger”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the attack was aimed at fuel depots used to supply military equipment.
The long-awaited meeting between Putin and Erdogan is scheduled to take place in Sochi on Russia’s south-west coast on Monday.
Turkish officials have confirmed the couple will discuss renewing the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which the Kremlin withdrew from six weeks ago.
The deal, negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, had allowed almost 33 million tonnes (36 million tons) of grain and other goods to safely leave three Ukrainian ports, despite the war with Russia.
However, Russia backed away from the deal after claiming that a parallel deal that called for removing barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports had not been honored.
Moscow complained that restrictions on shipping and insurance were hampering its agricultural trade, despite the country shipping record quantities of wheat since last year.
The Sochi summit follows talks between Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, at which Russia handed out a list of measures the West would need to take to allow Ukraine’s Black Sea exports to resume.
Erdogan has expressed sympathy for Putin’s position. In July, he said Putin had “certain expectations of Western countries” regarding the Black Sea Agreement and that it was “crucial for those countries to take action in this regard.”
Elsewhere in Ukraine, two people were killed and two others wounded in a Russian shelling on Sunday at the village of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region.
Artillery fire hit eight settlements across the region, Ukraine’s National Police wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian prosecutors also announced on Sunday that they have launched a war crimes investigation into the death of a police officer who was killed by Russian shelling in the city of Seredyna-Buda on Saturday afternoon.
Two other police officers and a civilian were injured in the attack in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy region.