Ukrainian leaders said on Monday that they would press ahead with a plan to resume grain exports, despite another Russian attack. Russian forces carried out a missile strike on Saturday on the port of Odesa, threatening a deal aimed at easing the global food crisis.
The Russian invasion has tied up tens of millions of tons of grain in Ukrainian ports. Officials from the United Nations and Turkey brokered an agreement on Friday to resume shipments.
The missile strike the next day called into question the viability of the plan. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the attack showed the Russians' "attitude toward its partners."
Still, Ukrainian officials said they expect the first shipment to leave this week. They said, in two weeks, they will be ready to send out shipments from three ports.
Under the agreement, all ships would be protected. Zelenskyy said the question now, is to what extent the parties "can control Russia."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov defended the attack on Odesa, saying it was aimed at military infrastructure. He said, "There are no obstacles to starting deliveries of grain to customers, in line with the deal signed."
Analysts with the British Ministry of Defence have described the latest fighting as "inconclusive." They said Russian commanders "face a dilemma; whether to resource the offensive in the east, or bolster the defense in the west."