Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Zelensky: The strikes on Odessa are barbarism on the part of Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the rocket fire against the port of Odessa as "Russian barbarism".
The US also condemned the attack, which Russia denies. Turkish President Erdogan assured that, nevertheless, the export of Ukrainian grain will start soon.
The Ukrainian authorities announced that there were casualties from the Russian strikes on the port of Odessa.
According to the Ukrainian army, two missiles hit the Black Sea port on Saturday.
The missile attack shows that Moscow cannot be trusted to implement the grain deal struck with the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine on Friday. President Volodymyr Zelensky defended this position:
"The cynical Russian missile attack on Odessa, on our port, turned out to be a blow to the political positions of Russia itself. And if anyone in the world says that dialogue with Russia, any kind of agreement, is necessary, let them see what happens. The Russian missiles ‘Caliber’ destroyed the very possibility of such statements."
A delegation from the US Congress met with Zelensky and pledged further support against Russia
Earlier, the State Department condemned the Russian attack on Odessa. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the attack "undermines the work of the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine" to deliver critical food to world markets. Blinken repeated accusations that Russia bears responsibility for the deepening global food crisis.
Ukrainian representatives, however, clarified that no serious damage was caused by the attack in Odessa. Preparations for the resumption of grain exports continue.
“The transportation of Ukrainian grain by sea will begin soon”, Turkish President Recep Erdogan assured. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar cited Russian officials as saying to Ankara that Moscow had "nothing to do" with the strikes on the Odessa port.
Ukraine launches an offensive in the Kherson region
Ukrainian forces are gradually entering the eastern Kherson region, which was captured by Russia at the beginning of the war. This was announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The occupation authorities are preparing a referendum on the region's accession to the Russian Federation.
“The occupiers were trying to establish a base there, but did it help them? The Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) are advancing in the region step by step," Zelensky stressed.
Ukrainian authorities said more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were surrounded by Ukrainian troops in southern Ukraine's Kherson region, not far from the village of Visokopolie. It is about three battalion-tactical groups of the invaders, among which forces of the special forces of the Russian Federation and tanks.
According to the adviser to the head of the president's office, Oleksandr Arestovich, the Russians want to be provided with a "green corridor" for retreat, which they have been denied.
"There are two options - to surrender and save their lives, or we will destroy them," he said in his traditional evening conversation about the situation at the front with Russian human rights activist Mark Feygin.
According to Arestovich, if the Russians raise the white flag is the better option for Ukraine as well, since these Russian soldiers would be exchanged for the freedom of the heroes of the Azov Regiment who are in captivity.
The Ukrainian Defense Forces are probably preparing to launch or have already launched a counter-offensive in the Kherson region, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also reports.
Analysis of the probable start of the counteroffensive in the Kherson region may be somewhat inaccurate due to the limited amount of available data. Analysts warn that open-source information on the progress and pace of the counteroffensive is likely to be limited and slow, lagging behind actual events.
According to the ISW, the area between the front line and Kherson is rural and consists mostly of small settlements, which are less likely to report troop movements and fighting, allowing control of the area to shift without evidence appearing in reports from open sources. The occupiers also have no incentive to report the victories of the UAF.
Earlier it was reported that in the Kherson region, the UAF hit the Darievsky bridge over Ingulets. The local district councilor, Serhii Khlan, said that this "is not yet the liberation of Kherson, but serious preparatory steps in this direction."