On Sunday, Russian troops launched heavy strikes on the port city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, killing the owner of one of the country’s largest grain-producing and exporting companies, according to the local governor.
The founder and owner of the agricultural company “Nibulon” Alexey Vadatursky and his wife were killed in their house, the governor of Nikolaev Vitaly Kim said on Telegram.
Headquartered in Nikolaev, a strategically important city bordering the Kherson region, largely occupied by Russia, Nibulon specializes in the production and export of wheat, barley and corn, has its own fleet and shipyard.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Mr. Vadatursky’s death a “great loss for the whole of Ukraine”, saying the businessman was building a modern grain market with a network of transshipment terminals and elevators.
As a result of the shelling of Nikolaev, three people were also injured, Mayor Alexander Senkevich told Ukrainian television, adding that 12 rockets hit residential buildings and educational institutions. Previously, he called the strikes on the city “perhaps the heaviest” in the entire five-month war.
Up to 50 Grad rockets hit residential areas of the southern city of Nikopol on Sunday morning, Governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region Valentin Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. One person was injured.
Ukrainian forces struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Russian-held Sevastopol early Sunday morning, Mikhail Razvozhayev, governor of the Crimean port city, told Russian media.
According to him, five employees were injured in the attack, when an alleged drone flew into the courtyard of the headquarters.
Reuters was unable to independently verify reports from the battlefield.
The attack in Sevastopol coincided with Russian Navy Day, which President Vladimir Putin celebrated by announcing that in the coming months the navy would receive what he called the “formidable” Zirkon hypersonic cruise missiles. These missiles can move at nine times the speed of sound.
In this frame from a video published by the press service of the Russian Ministry of Defense on Saturday, May 28, 2022, the Russian Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov launched a new Zirkon hypersonic cruise missile from the Barents Sea. Source: A MONKEY / AP
He did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during a speech following the signing of a new naval doctrine that identified the United States as Russia’s arch-rival and outlined Russia’s global maritime ambitions in critical areas such as the Arctic and the Black Sea.
On February 24, Putin moved tens of thousands of troops across the border, sparking a conflict that has left thousands dead, displaced millions, and sharply strained relations between Russia and the West.
The biggest conflict in Europe since World War II also triggered an energy and food crisis that shook the global economy. Both Ukraine and Russia are leading grain suppliers.
Participants carry branches of wheat covered in red paint as they march in downtown Athens during a pro-Ukraine rally on July 31, 2022. (Photo by Louise GULIAMAKI/AFP) (Photo by LUIZA GULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images) Source: Getty / LOUISE GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images
Harvest could be halved
Zelenskiy said on Sunday that the country could only harvest half of its usual crop this year because of the invasion.
“The harvest in Ukraine this year may be half as much,” assuming half as much as usual, Zelensky wrote in English on Twitter. “Our main goal is to prevent a global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion. The grain finds an alternative delivery method,” he added.
Ukraine struggled to get its products to buyers through the Black Sea ports because of the war.
But the agreement, signed under the auspices of the UN and Turkey on July 22, provides safe passage for ships carrying grain from three southern Ukrainian ports.
There is a high chance that the first grain-exporting vessel will leave Ukrainian ports on Monday, a spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
Zelenskiy said late on Saturday that hundreds of thousands of people are still facing heavy fighting in Donbass, which includes the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and which Russia seeks to fully control. Parts of the Donbas were held until the invasion of pro-Russian separatists.
“Many refuse to leave, but it still needs to be done,” Zelensky said. “The more people who leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”
On Sunday, Russia said it had invited UN and Red Cross experts to investigate the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Ukraine and Russia exchanged accusations of a missile attack or explosion early Friday morning that apparently killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the front-line town of Olenivka in eastern Donetsk.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Sunday condemned the attack and said it had not yet received permission to visit the site, adding that it was not in its mandate to publicly investigate alleged war crimes.
“Families should receive urgent news and answers about what happened to their loved ones,” the statement said. “The parties must do everything in their power, including through impartial investigations, to help establish the facts behind the attack and bring clarity to the matter.”
The Russian Defense Ministry has published a list of 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war killed and 73 wounded in what it says was a Ukrainian military strike using US artillery.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces deny responsibility, saying Russian artillery attacked the prison to cover up the mistreatment.
Reuters journalists confirmed some of the deaths in the prison, but were unable to immediately verify the different versions of events.
Russia denies that its forces deliberately attacked civilians or committed war crimes during the invasion, which it calls a “special operation.”