KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Two people were hospitalized Sunday following a three-and-a-half-hour barrage of Russian drones on a port in Ukraine’s Odessa region on Sunday, officials said.
The attack on the seaport of Reni comes a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss resuming food shipments from Ukraine under a grain deal of the Black Sea which Moscow severed in July.
Russian forces fired 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones along the Danube in the early hours of Sunday, 22 of which were shot down by air defense, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak described the attack as part of a Russian campaign “aimed at causing a food crisis and hunger in the world”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the attack targeted fuel storage facilities used to supply military equipment.
The long-awaited meeting of Putin and Erdogan is due to take place on Monday in Sochi, on the southwest coast of Russia.
Turkish officials have confirmed that the two men will discuss renewing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, from which the Kremlin withdrew six weeks ago.
The deal – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 – had allowed nearly 33 million metric tons (36 million tons) of grain and other products to safely leave three Ukrainian ports despite the war Russian.
However, Russia broke that deal after claiming that a side deal promising to remove barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports had not been honored.
Moscow has complained that restrictions on shipping and insurance are hampering its agricultural trade, even as it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.
The Sochi summit follows talks between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, in which Russia outlined a list of actions the West should take to get Ukrainian exports to the Black Sea resumed.
Erdogan expressed sympathy for Putin’s position. In July, he said Putin had “certain expectations from Western countries” regarding the Black Sea deal and that it was “crucial for these countries to act on it”.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, two people were killed and two others injured in a Russian bombardment on the village of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region on Sunday.
Artillery fire hit eight settlements across the region, Ukrainian National Police wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian prosecutors also announced on Sunday that they had opened a war crimes investigation into the death of a police officer killed by Russian shelling of the town of Seredyna-Buda on Saturday afternoon.
Two other police officers and a civilian were injured in the attack that hit the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine.
The Huffington Gt