- Drone hits Russian Black Sea base, governor blames Ukraine
- Russian lawmaker says drone launched from Sevastopol
- Russian missiles hit Mykolaiv, killing grain exporter and his wife
- Zelenskiy says grain harvest could be halved by war
- ICRC condemns Friday’s attack on Ukrainian prisoners of war
KYIV, July 31 (Reuters) – Russian missiles pounded the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv on Sunday, killing the owner of a major grain exporter, while a drone strike on the naval base Russian Black Sea cruiser in Sevastopol was launched from inside the city in a “terrorist attack”, a Russian lawmaker has said.
Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of the Nibulon agricultural company, and his wife were killed in their home, Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.
Based in Mykolaiv, a strategically important city that borders the mostly Russian-occupied Kherson region, Nibulon specializes in the production and export of wheat, barley and corn, and has its own fleet and shipyard. .
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Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych described the more than 12 missile strikes as “probably the most powerful on the city in five months of war, hitting homes and schools, with at least three others wounded. On Sunday evening it reported that strikes had resumed, but no information on casualties or damage was available.
In Russian-occupied Sevastopol, five Russian navy personnel were injured in an explosion after a suspected drone flew into the yard of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the governor of the port city of Crimea, Mikhail Razvozhayev, to Russian media.
He blamed the attack on Ukraine, saying it decided to “spoil Navy Day for us”. Read more
Reuters could not independently verify reports from the battlefield.
But Olga Kovitidi, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, told Russian news agency RIA the attack was “undoubtedly carried out not from outside, but from the territory of Sevastopol”.
“Urgent search operations are being carried out in the city to find the organizers of this terrorist act. They will be found in the evening,” Kovitidi said.
The Sevastopol attack coincided with Russian Navy Day, which President Vladimir Putin marked by announcing that the navy would receive what he called “tremendous” Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles in the coming months. Missiles can travel at nine times the speed of sound, outpacing air defenses. Read more
Putin did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during a speech after signing a new naval doctrine that makes the United States Russia’s main rival and defines Russia’s global maritime ambitions for crucial areas such as the Arctic and the Black Sea.
GRAIN TYCOON ‘GREAT LOSS’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described the death of grain magnate Vadatursky as “a great loss for all of Ukraine”. Zelenskiy added that the businessman – one of Ukraine’s wealthiest with Forbes estimating his net worth in 2021 at $430 million – had built a modern grain market with a network of transshipment terminals and risers.
“It is these people, these companies, precisely the south of Ukraine, who have guaranteed global food security,” Zelenskiy said in his evening speech. “It’s always been that way. And it will be that way again.”
He added that Ukraine’s social and industrial potential, “our people, our capabilities, are surely more powerful than any Russian missile or shell.”
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian forces shelled Sumy’s northern border seven times, with more than 90 individual strikes, Sumy Governor Dmytro Zhyvjtsky said on his Telegram channel. A farm was damaged and 25 hectares (61.8 acres) of wheat fields were destroyed, he said.
Up to 50 Grad rockets hit residential areas in the southern city of Nikopol on Sunday morning, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. One person was injured.
Putin sent tens of thousands of troops across the border on February 24, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands, uprooted millions and deeply strained relations between Russia and the West.
Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II has also fueled an energy and food crisis that is rocking the global economy. Ukraine and Russia are the main grain suppliers.
THE HARVEST COULD BE HALVED
Zelenskiy also said on Sunday that the country may only harvest half of its usual amount this year due to the invasion.
“The Ukrainian harvest this year is threatened with being half as much,” suggesting half the usual amount, Zelenskiy wrote in English on Twitter. “Our main objective – to prevent the world food crisis caused by the Russian invasion. Cereals always find a way to be delivered alternatively,” he added.
Ukraine is struggling to get its products to buyers through its Black Sea ports because of the war.
But an agreement signed under the aegis of the UN and Turkey on July 22 provides safe passage for ships carrying grain from three ports in southern Ukraine.
It is highly likely that the first grain export ship will leave Ukrainian ports on Monday, a spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. Read more
Zelenskiy said on Sunday that Russia had transferred some forces from the eastern region of Donbass to the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhizhya.
“But that won’t help them there. None of the Russian strikes will go unanswered from our military and intelligence officers,” he added.
But Zelenskiy said on Saturday that hundreds of thousands of people were still at risk of heavy fighting in the Donbass region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces and which Russia is seeking complete control. Whole sections of Donbass were held before the invasion by Russian-backed separatists.
Russia announced on Sunday that it had invited UN and Red Cross experts to investigate the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Ukraine and Russia have swapped accusations over a missile strike or explosion early on Friday that appears to have killed Ukrainian prisoners of war in the frontline town of Olenivka in eastern Donetsk.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Sunday condemned the attack and said it had not yet received permission to visit the site, but added that it was not its mandate to visit the site. publicly investigate alleged war crimes. Read more
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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Lincoln Feast, William Maclean and David Lawder; Editing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry, Tomasz Janowski and Diane Craft
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