News World Europe Ukraine President: No peace, no truce while Russia occupies parts of our country

Ukraine President: No peace, no truce while Russia occupies parts of our country

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Russian missiles have hit Ukraine’s port of Odessa, threatening a deal signed just a day earlier to unblock grain exports from the Black Sea and ease global food shortages caused by the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strike showed Russia could not be trusted to implement the deal.

However, public broadcaster Suspilne quoted the Ukrainian military as saying the missiles had not caused significant damage and a government minister said preparations continued to restart grain exports from the country’s Black Sea ports.

The deal signed on Friday by Russia and Ukraine, and mediated by the United Nations and Turkey, was hailed as a breakthrough after nearly five months of punishing fighting since Russia invaded its neighbour.

It is seen as crucial to curbing soaring global food prices by allowing grain exports to be shipped from Black Sea ports including Odessa.

Putting out flames at the port of Odessa. Photo: AAP

UN officials had said on Friday they hoped the agreement would be operational in a few weeks, and the strikes on Odessa drew strong condemnation from Ukraine, the United Nations and the United States.

Turkey’s defence minister said Russian officials had declared Russia had “nothing to do” with the strikes on the port.

A Russian defence ministry statement on Saturday outlining progress in the war did not mention any strike in Odessa.

No truce, only victory

It comes as Mr Zelensky sent a defiant public message that there would be no truce, only victory as the bitter war approaches its seventh month.

A ceasefire without the return of lost territories would make sure the war flared up all over again, Mr Zelensky said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

He warned that any truce which allowed Russia to continue occupying Ukrainian territories seized since the February invasion would inevitably see Moscow use such a pause in hostilities to replenish and re-arm for the next round.

Mr Zelensky also spoke about US-supplied high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), saying, “the Western supplies of Himars, while making a material difference, are much lower than what Ukraine needs to turn the tide”.

“Freezing the conflict with the Russian Federation means a pause that gives the Russian Federation a break for rest,” the Wall Street Journal reported, citing comments by Mr Zelensky.

First victory, then talks

He said, “Society believes that all the territories must be liberated first, and then we can negotiate about what to do and how we could live in the centuries ahead.

“A more pressing need is air-defence systems that could prevent Russia from raining long-range missiles on otherwise peaceful cities hundreds of miles from the front lines,” Mr Zelensky added.

Referring to the deal signed with Russia to reopen grain exports Mr Zelensky said, “Diplomatic concessions to Moscow might stabilise the markets somewhat but would only provide a temporary respite and boomerang in the future”.