Ukraine says Russia struck civilian ship near Odesa

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Ukraine says Russia struck civilian ship near Odesa

A missile has hit a civilian vessel in the Black Sea region, killing one and injuring four, the army says.

Russia has fired a missile at a Liberia-flagged civilian ship entering a port in the Black Sea region of Odesa, according to the Ukrainian army.

A harbour pilot was killed and four of the ship’s crew were injured in the attack on Wednesday.

“The missile hit the structure of a civilian vessel flying the Liberian flag as it was entering the port,” the army said.

“Three crew members, citizens of the Philippines, were injured, one of them was hospitalised. The pilot was killed and another port worker was injured,” it added.

Since a United Nations-brokered deal guaranteeing safe passage for civilian ships fell through in July, both Kyiv and Moscow have ramped up military activity and attacks in the Black Sea.

“Continuing the terror of civilian shipping, the enemy insidiously fired an Kh-31P anti-radar missile in the direction of one of the ports of Odesa region from tactical aircraft in the Black Sea,” the Ukrainian army said.

The collapse of the UN-backed grain export deal prompted Moscow to warn that any ships entering Ukrainian ports could be viewed as potential military targets.

Ukraine subsequently announced the launch of a new “humanitarian corridor” – a sea route for civilian ships – that avoids international waters.

But Russia has continued to attack Ukraine’s grain-exporting ports and infrastructure.

EU membership prospects

On Wednesday, the European Union’s executive recommended opening formal membership talks with Ukraine, as soon as it meets final conditions, in a major show of support for Kyiv in its battle against Russia.

“This is a strong and historic step that paves the way to a stronger EU with Ukraine as its member,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on social media.

Zelenskyy also said that Ukraine would still try to deliver battlefield results by the end of the year and that he remained sure Kyiv would eventually have success in the war despite difficulties at the front.

Acknowledging the slow progress of Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the occupied south, in an interview by video link at the Reuters NEXT conference in New York, he also touted a Ukrainian battlefield plan for 2024 that he said he could not disclose.

His tone contrasted with the gloomier assessment last week of his commander-in-chief who said the fighting now in its 21st month might be heading towards a deadlock and a war of attrition that could play into Russia’s hands.

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