Russia's Lavrov defends Odesa missile strike

STORY: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking in Congo Republic on Monday (July 25), defended a missile attack on the Ukrainian port Odesa.

The missiles hit Odesa on Saturday (July 23), the day after Moscow and Kyiv signed a deal designed to ease global food shortages by allowing exports across the Black Sea.

In footage released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov said the strikes had targeted military infrastructure.

"Speaking about the episode which you mentioned that happened in Odesa, there is nothing in the commitments that Russia signed up to in Istanbul on July 22 that would prohibit us from continuing our special military operation, destroying (Ukrainian) military infrastructure and other military targets."

Lavrov added that the grain terminal in Odesa port is a "considerable distance" from the military part and that there is no obstacle to starting deliveries of grain.

Lavrov's African tour is designed to strengthen Moscow's ties with a continent that has a tangled legacy of ties with both the West and the former Soviet Union.

African countries have largely avoided taking sides over the war in Ukraine.

Many import Russian grain and, increasingly, energy - but they also buy Ukrainian grain and benefit from Western flows of aid and trade.

The continent is also being courted by the West this week, with French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer both making trips.

Lavrov has already visited Egypt and will head from Congo to Uganda, and then Ethiopia.

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