Lauren Moye, FISM News
As the U.S. approved a new military support package, Russia appears ready to renege on a crucial grain export deal signed only yesterday. Meanwhile, the battle rages as Ukraine continues its counter-offensive in the southern region of Kershon.
Yesterday, the White House announced another security assistance package for Ukraine. This one totals $270 million. This security package includes four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and up to 580 Phoenix Ghost drones.
To date, the U.S. has provided $8.2 billion in aid to Ukraine. This latest package is paid for through the $40 billion in Ukraine aid previously approved by Congress back in May.
“The president has been clear that we’re going to continue to support the government of Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
The new round of HIMARS will bring the U.S.-supplied total to 16. The medium-range missiles are effective because they allow accurate attacks to be carried out, such as Wednesday’s report of a Ukrainian strike against a strategic bridge held by Russia in Kershon, located in the southern part of the nation. Because of their truck-mounting capabilities, the rocket launchers can then be easily moved before Russia takes them out in a counter-strike.
Grain deal in jeopardy
Just yesterday, there was global celebration as Russia and Ukraine reached a landmark deal to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports. BBC News reported that Ukraine was the fourth-largest grain exporter pre-war. When you combine the nation’s numbers with Russia’s own exports, the two nations supply over 40% of wheat to Africa.
However, earlier today Kyiv reported that Russian shelled infrastructure in the port city of Odesa. Through the Telegram messaging app, Operational Command South stated, “The enemy attacked the Odesa sea trade port with Kalibr cruise missiles; 2 missiles were shot down by air defense forces; 2 hit the infrastructure of the port.”
However, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook, “We continue technical preparations for the launch of exports of agricultural products from our ports.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said through a Telegram video, “This proves only one thing: no matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it.”
The attack has renewed condemnation towards Moscow.
Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Kyiv called it “outrageous” to attack a port city so close to signing the export agreement. She added to her tweet, “The Kremlin continues to weaponize food. Russia must be held to account.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “unequivocally condemns” the Saturday strike, according to a U.N. spokesperson who released a statement on his behalf. He added, “These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe.”
According to the deal, a Joint Coordination Center staffed by members of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the U.N. is tasked with resolving activity that might violate the deal, which includes monitoring ship activity in the Black Sea to ensure they have safe passage.
Now, Kyiv’s foreign ministry calls on the Western nations to make sure Russia fulfills commitments under the safe corridor agreement.
Battle continues across the nation
Over the past two days, heavy fighting has occurred in Kershon as Ukrainian forces pushed a counter-offensive against territory seized by Russia. The Ingulets River, an off-shoot of the larger Dnipro, has been central in this weekend’s battle according to British military intelligence.
The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense reported that Moscow forces are targeting the area with artillery fire. However, the intelligence update added that Russian supply lines “west of the of the river are increasingly at risk.”
Ukraine continues to strike the Antonivsky Bridge to hinder this supply line, although the bridge is operational due to temporary repairs made by Russia.
Meanwhile, Russia struck the central Korvohrad region on Saturday according to local governor Andriy Riakovych. He reported that 13 missiles struck a military airfield and railway, killing two security guards at an electricity substation and one Ukrainian soldier while wounding nine other people.
The strikes left part of the regional capital city Kropyvnytskyi without power.