KYIV (Reuters) -A Russian drone strike on a Ukrainian grain exporting port damaged warehouses and set buildings on fire on Monday, Kyiv said, hours before scheduled talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan.
The attack on the Danube River port of Izmail in Ukraine’s southern Odesa region hit warehouses and production buildings, and debris from drones that were shot down set ablaze several civilian infrastructure buildings, the regional governor said.
Ukraine’s air force said it had shot down 23 out of 32 Iranian-made “Shahed” drones launched from Russian territory and from occupied Crimea. Police said there were no casualties.
The police posted several photos of warehouses with holes in their roofs and an industrial building whose windows had been smashed and its roof destroyed following an attack that lasted more than three hours.
Putin and Erdogan, the Turkish president, were due to meet in the Russian Black Sea (NYSE:SE) resort of Sochi as Ankara and the United Nations try to revive a grain export deal that helped ease a global food crisis. Ankara said the talks were vital for the deal.
Russia quit the deal in July – a year after it was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey, It said its own food and fertiliser exports faced obstacles and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.
Since quitting the deal, Moscow has launched frequent attacks on Ukrainian ports on the Danube, which has become Kyiv’s main route for exporting grain and receiving fuel.
Land routes that could be used to export grain are more expensive and take longer, experts say.
Monday’s attack followed Russian strikes on Sunday on the Danube port of Reni, in which infrastructure was damaged and at least two people were injured.