Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been widely condemned for an act of "barbarism" less than 24 hours after signing a deal aimed at easing global food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.
The deal signed by Moscow and Kyiv was hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough that would help curb soaring global food prices, as Russia had promised not to target ports when grain ships were in transit.
However a missile attack on Ukraine's largest commercial sea port in Odesa has cast doubt over the promise of the "humanitarian corridor".
Despite the attack, Ukraine has vowed to push ahead with efforts to restart grain exports from Odesa and other Black Sea ports.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday (local time) denounced the strikes on Odesa as blatant "barbarism" that showed Moscow could not be trusted to implement the deal, which was mediated by Turkey and the United Nations and signed just the previous day.
The agreement was hailed as a breakthrough but as the war entered its sixth month on Sunday there was no sign of a let-up in the bloody conflict.
While the main theatre of combat has been the eastern region of Donbas, Mr Zelensky said in video posted late on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were moving "step by step" into the occupied eastern Black Sea region of Kherson.
Australia joins chorus of condemnation
The strikes on Odesa drew a chorus of condemnation from world leaders including from Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
"Australia condemns the Russian attack on Odesa. We call on Russia to uphold its end of the deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to enable Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea," she tweeted on Sunday afternoon.
"Russia’s illegal war has left millions at risk of hunger, including in our region."
"It took less than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile attack on Odesa’s port, breaking its promises and undermining its commitments," Oleg Nikolenko, from Ukraine's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tweeted.
"In case of non-fulfillment, Russia will bear full responsibility for global food crisis."
Australia condemns the Russian attack on Odesa.
We call on Russia to uphold its end of the deal brokered by @UN & Turkey to enable Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea.
Russia’s illegal war has left millions at risk of hunger, including in our region.
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) July 24, 2022
Wheat prices, which had risen steeply, had recently come back down in part due to the expectation of the deal, according to analysts.
The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Germany and Italy also condemned the attack.
Moscow denies responsibility as Ukraine releases video
Video released by the Ukrainian military showed firefighters battling a blaze on an unidentified boat moored alongside a tug boat at the port.
Two Russian Kalibr missiles hit the area of a pumping station at the port, two others were shot down by air defence forces, according to Ukraine's military.
Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ignat said the missiles were fired from warships in the Black Sea near Crimea.
The port's grain storage area reportedly was not hit.
"Unfortunately there are wounded. The port's infrastructure was damaged," said Odesa region governor Maksym Marchenko.
But Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook that "we continue technical preparations for the launch of exports of agricultural products from our ports".
Turkey's defence minister said Russian officials told Ankara that Moscow had "nothing to do" with the strikes.
While African nations rely heavily on Ukraine's grain exports, Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis blaming Western sanctions for slowing its food and fertiliser exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.
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