Russia intensified its attacks on multiple Ukrainian cities Monday, targeting critical infrastructure and knocking out power and water supplies in Kyiv and other regions. The attacks came a day after Russia alleged that Ukraine attacked its Black Sea fleet.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said attacks in the capital cut off power and water supplies in parts of the city leaving more than 80% of its residents without running water.
In a tweet, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the attacks.
Ukraine’s army posted on Telegram that the barrage included “more than 50” cruise missiles in several waves of attacks.
“Another batch of Russian missiles hits Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians. Don’t justify these attacks by calling them a ‘response’. Russia does this because it still has the missiles and the will to kill Ukrainians.”
Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 44 cruise missiles that were launched by Russia.
Ukraine has not confirmed or denied attacking the Russian fleet, which Russia cited Saturday as its reason for suspending its participation in a U.N.-led grain initiative.
Meanwhile, in an effort to avert world hunger, 12 grain ships sailed from Ukrainian ports despite Moscow’s pull out from the initiative. They transported 354,500 tons of grain, the most in a day since the program began, suggesting a backlog was being cleared after exports were interrupted, Sunday.
“Civilian cargo ships can never be a military target or held hostage. The food must flow,” tweeted Amir Abdullah, the U.N. official who coordinates the program.
However, Lloyd’s of London insurer Ascot has paused insurance for new shipments going through the Ukrainian Black Sea corridor.
“From today we are pausing on quoting new shipments until we better understand the situation,” Ascot head of cargo Chris McGill said. “Insurance that has already been issued still stands.”
Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations worked to keep grain shipments moving through the Black Sea Monday.
The U.N. said there was a joint agreement on a plan for 16 vessels to move through the maritime humanitarian corridor, including 12 heading from Ukrainian ports toward an inspection area off Istanbul.
A Sunday statement also said Turkey and the U.N. would provide inspection teams with a goal of inspecting 40 vessels that have left Ukraine.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday his government is determined to continue the grain export program despite Russia’s hesitancy.
More than 9.5 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs have left Ukrainian ports since the beginning of August under the agreement struck with Ukraine and Russia to resume the shipments amid a global food crisis.
Wheat markets have been volatile due to developments in Moscow’s eight-month-old invasion of Ukraine, as both countries are among the world’s largest wheat exporters.
Chicago wheat futures were up more than 5% early Monday, but still about 30% lower than mid-May levels.
After no vessels moved through the maritime humanitarian corridor on Sunday, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said Monday some vessels were able to leave Ukrainian ports. Among them was the Ikaria Angel, which the World Food Program chartered to bring 30,000 metric tons of wheat to the Horn of Africa.
“These foodstuffs were intended for the residents of Ethiopia, who faced the real possibility of mass starvation,” Kubrakov tweeted.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Russia to return to the agreement to allow “food to reach the world.”
“Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much needed grain and fertilizers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted on Sunday. “The EU urges Russia to revert its decision.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday called the Russia’s exit “predictable.” He accused Moscow of “blockading” ships carrying grain since September.
Zelenskyy called for a tough response against Russia from international bodies like the U.N. and the G-20 group of the world’s major economies.
Speaking to reporters in Delaware Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden called Russia’s decision to suspend participation from the Ukrainian grain deal “purely outrageous” and said it would increase starvation.
“There’s no merit to what they’re doing. The U.N. negotiated that deal and that should be the end of it,” Biden said.
VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this story.