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Russia keeps shelling Ukraine port city; Zelensky says it shows Moscow can't be trusted

Rescuers clean debris at the scene of a Russian shelling attack in the city of Chuhuiv, Ukraine, on Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said recent Russian attacks on the port city of Odessa prove that Moscow cannot be trusted to keep its word. Photo by Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE

July 26 (UPI) — Russia kept up attacks against the southern port city of Odessa early Tuesday with new missile strikes on civilian targets, raising more doubt that Moscow intends to allow Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from the Black Sea.

Local officials said Tuesday the new Russian attacks were launched from a “strategic aircraft.” Attacks in the area have been constant since Saturday, hours after Ukraine and Russia agreed to the grain deal, which was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations.

The agreement allowed Ukraine to resume shipments of grain that have been blocked by Russian forces in the Black Sea, and the port city of Odessa is key to commerce in the area and Russian military plans. A Russian official denied on Monday that attacks in Odessa would affect the new agreement.

“Russia almost certainly perceives anti-ship missiles as a key threat, which is limiting the effectiveness of their Black Sea Fleet,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said in a tweet Tuesday. “This has significantly undermined the overall invasion plan, as Russia cannot realistically attempt an amphibious assault to seize Odessa.

“Russia will continue to prioritize efforts to degrade and destroy Ukraine’s anti-ship capability. However, Russia’s targeting processes are highly likely routinely undermined by dated intelligence, poor planning and a top-down approach to operations.”

Firefighters work to put out a fire in the sea port of Odessa in southern Ukraine on Saturday. Since then, Ukrainian officials say that Russia has kept up attacks in the area. Photo by Odessa City Press Office/EPA-EFE

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian attacks on the port city prove that Moscow cannot be trusted to keep its word that it will allow safe passage for vessels carrying grain to other parts of the world that are desperate to receive the shipments.

The blocked Ukrainian grain shipments have threatened global food security for weeks.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials reported additional Russian attacks in the southern city of Mykolaiv and in the northeast in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Mykolaiv Mayor Olexander Senkevich said the attacks came from planes arriving from the Black Sea and they damaged port infrastructure. Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov said a Russian attack struck the city’s center.

Russia also looked to bolster its position in Moscow-controlled Kherson by moving military equipment into the region.

In the Russian-occupied southern port city of Melitopol, Mayor Ivan Fedorov said Russia is preventing thousands of people from evacuating in the Zaporizhzhia region.

“Evacuation is almost impossible today,” Fedorov said, according to CNN. “Today, more than 5,000 people, over 1,200 cars have gathered there. People can’t even go and buy food for themselves.

“The only condition under which the Russians allow people to go to buy food in the city is to leave all the documents (passport, driver’s license, etc.) with them and then collect them after returning.”

The Ukrainian General Staff said Tuesday evening that fighters were facing off against Russian troops near the eastern city of Pokrovske in Donetsk oblast, part of the Donbas region.

“In the direction [of] Bakhmut, the enemy shelled military and civilian infrastructure in the areas of Berestove, Soledar, Pokrovske, Vesela Dolyna, Vershyna, Kodema, Maiorsk and Toretsk,” the Ukrainian General Staff said. “It carried out airstrikes directly on the settlements of Pokrovske and Novoluhanske.”