Russia claims Odesa attack hit only military targets; envoy says Ukraine kids kidnapped: Live updates – USA TODAY

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Russian officials Sunday insisted the country’s missile airstrike on the Ukrainian port of Odesa this weekend – which came just hours after the two countries signed identical agreements with the U.N. to allow grain exports to resume – hit only military targets. 

Blockage of the port has created a global food crisis. Saturday’s strike was a “spit in the face” to Turkey and the United Nations, which brokered the agreements, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

The Ukrainian military said Saturday that Moscow had attacked the port with four cruise missiles, two of which had been shot down.

Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said no grain storage facilities were hit in Odesa, but the two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit the port’s infrastructure and Ukrainian air defenses brought down two others, the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command said.

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Latest developments:

►Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa just hours after Moscow and Kyiv signed deals to allow grain exports to resume from there.

► Top Russian Diplomat Sergey Lavrov began the first leg of his trip across Africa in Egypt on Sunday, seeking to restore diplomatic ties and deflect blame on Russia for food shortages in the region.

►The State Department confirmed that two U.S. citizens thought to be fighting for Ukraine recently died in the country’s Donbas region, ABC News reported.

►The U.S. is sending another $270 million in security assistance to Ukraine, White House spokesman John Kirby said. The latest package includes Phoenix Ghost drones, medium-range rocket systems as well as ammunition and anti-armor systems. 

Russia is kidnapping, adopting out Ukrainian children, ambassador says

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova claimed on “Face The Nation” Sunday that Russian forces are “forcefully deporting” adults, families and children and speeding up adoption processes to place them in Russian families.

“Russians themselves already admitted that 350,000 children have been ‘evacuated’ as they say, but kidnapped,” Markarova said. “This is a brutal violation not only of international law, but of common decency. How can you steal our children and try to hide them somewhere in Russia?”

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimated that Russia has interrogated, detained and forcibly deported 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including 260,000 children, from their homes to Russia.

Five months into the war, what do we know?

Sunday marks five months since Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. What Russian President Vladimir Putin once thought of as a quick victory has transformed into a months-long effort, as Ukrainian forces fend off heavy Russian artillery attacks in eastern and southern Ukraine.

While western nations have condemned Putin’s invasion of its smaller neighbor, accusing Russia of war crimes and imposing several rounds of sanctions, Ukrainians forces are engaged in intense fighting in the Luhansk and Donetsk territories as Russia aims to gain control of the Donbas region.

From which Ukrainian territories are under Russian control, to a breakdown of U.S. aid to Ukraine, read a breakdown of what we know about the war here.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY

Exporting grain will take months, ex-minister says

It could take up to six months to ship out the grain stored in silos in Ukraine, if Russia does not interfere with the export, Ukraine’s ex-minister of trade and agriculture said.

Tymofiy Mylovanov, the former minister, told Al Jazeera that Russia’s “calculus” is to slow down the Ukrainian export of grain.

“Currently, we can ship out 2.5 million tons per month out of Odesa port. So you have four months (to clear the backlog). If undisturbed and not harassed we could bring that up to 5.5 million tons,” Mylovanov told the outlet.

Ministry: Russia has committed ‘crimes against Ukrainian cultural heritage’

Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture reported this week that Russia has committed more than 400 “crimes against the cultural heritage” of the country during its invasion.

The ministry has documented destruction of and damage to objects and locations of cultural significance including religious sites, monuments and memorials, museums, libraries and theaters.

“All the materials will be used as evidence for criminal proceedings against Russian criminals,” Kateryna Chuyeva, deputy minister of culture and information policy, said in a statement.

Contributing: The Associated Press