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    Russia targets Danube ports as Putin prepares to discuss grain deal with Erdogan


    Sep 4, 2023

    KYIV — Russian forces launched a “massive” drone attack on Ukraine’s Danube River area for the second straight night, Ukrainian officials said Monday, just hours before Russia’s president is scheduled to meet with his Turkish counterpart to discuss reviving the vital Black Sea grain deal.

    In a Telegram post Monday, Ukraine’s Southern Defense Forces said it shot down 17 drones, but the attack in the Odesa region had damaged multiple targets, including warehouses and agricultural equipment.

    “The enemy has once again defiantly and powerfully attacked the south of Odesa region,” the forces said. “A massive overnight attack by Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles targeted civilian infrastructure in the Danube area.” There were no reports of casualties, it added.

    Oleh Kiper, head of the Odesa region military administration, reported damage in Izmail district, home to one of Ukraine’s main Danube ports.

    It comes a day after Russia launched a drone attack on the Danube port of Reni that killed two people, according to Ukrainian officials.

    Grain deal: The airstrikes are the latest attempt by Moscow to target Ukrainian shipping infrastructure since July, when Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal that allowed Ukrainian ships to bypass a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and navigate safe passage through the waterway to Turkey’s Bosporus Strait in order to reach global markets.

    On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi as Ankara tries to convince Moscow to reconsider its withdrawal from the deal.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously said Russia will be ready to rejoin the grain initiative as soon as it sees guarantees that benefits promised to Moscow will be implemented. — CNN

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