For the first time since the war in Ukraine began, a ship carrying grain left the port of Odesa on Monday thanks to a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. Another 16 are waiting to follow, with more to come.
After docking in Istanbul on Tuesday for inspections, the cargo ship Razoni will carry more than 26,000 tons of corn to Lebanon – a first step toward easing a growing food crisis. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil.
The agreement allows the country to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports for months because of a Russian blockade. Ukrainian authorities said 16 more cargo vessels are waiting their turn at Odesa. As part of the deal, Russia will be able to export grain and fertilizer.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed Monday as a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia and Africa,” in a statement on Twitter. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also called the ship’s departure “very positive.”
Turkey’s defense ministry said more ships will leave Ukraine’s ports but did not provide further details. Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements in Istanbul on July 22.
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►WNBA star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court Tuesday, a month after the beginning of a trial in which she could face 10 years in prison if convicted on drug charges. The Biden administration has offered a prisoner exchange to get Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan released from captivity but Russia has not accepted it.
►The European Commission announced $1 billion euros will be delivered to Ukraine by Tuesday “to address its immediate financial needs following the unprovoked and unjustified aggression by Russia.” The money is the first part of a $9 billion euro aid package.
►Anatoly Chubais, who resigned as a high-ranking adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin and left Russia shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, was reported to be in intensive care in a European hospital on Sunday for a neurological disorder.
►Wealthy Ukrainian businessman Oleksiy Vadatursky, who led a grain production and export business, and his wife, Raisa, were killed in their Mykolaiv home Sunday by a Russian missile strike, Ukrainian officials said.
US-supplied HIMARS ‘a top hit of this summer,’ grateful Ukrainian minister says
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov can’t be accused of relying on stilted military language as he accepted the latest set of advanced rocket launchers from the U.S.
In announcing Monday via Twitter that four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) had arrived, Reznikov made the noise from the truck-mounted weapons sound positively musical.
“The sound of the #HIMARS volley has become a top hit of this summer at the front lines!” his tweet said.
Reznikov,who used emojis and Twitterspeak in thanking U.S. officials and the American people for their support, said Ukrainian forces “have proven to be smart operators of this weapon” and concluded his message with a photo of a rocket leaving a trail of smoke right after getting launched through a HIMARS.
Humanity just one mistake away from ‘nuclear annihilation,’ UN chief says
Russia’s war in Ukraine is one of the key developments raising the threat of a nuclear confrontation to its highest level since the height of the Cold War, the United Nations chief said Monday at the beginning of a conference that aims to lower the risk of such a catastrophe.
Citing the Russian invasion along with nuclear threats in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”
Speaking at a meeting to review the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — a gathering originally scheduled for 2020 but delayed because of the pandemic — Guterres also warned that the chances of nuclear proliferation are increasing while the mechanisms to avoid escalation are weakening.
Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to the conference saying, “There can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it must never be fought,” the conflict he provoked in Ukraine was a leading concern among Monday’s speakers.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointed out Russian forces have taken over Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, in the southeastern Ukraine city of Zaporizhzhia, from where they launch attacks against Ukrainians, “knowing that they can’t and won’t shoot back because they might accidentally strike a nuclear reactor or highly radioactive waste in storage.”
Russian shelling kills three, injures more than a dozen
Three Ukrainian civilians were killed and 16 were injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region over the past 24 hours, according to the presidential office.
Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko repeated a call from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for all residents to evacuate, emphasizing the need to get 52,000 children in the region to safety.
Russian rockets injured two people in Kharkiv, Gov. Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram. One person was waiting for a bus and the other was near an apartment building, according to the Associated Press.
Three civilians were wounded by shelling in Mykolaiv, where repeated strikes also wiped out a hospital unit and damaged ambulances, according to regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim.
Ukrainian push to retake southern land forces Russia to divert from Donbas
Russia may have to choose between its goal of fully controlling the industrial Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and retaining its gains in the south.
With the help of U.S.-supplied rocket launchers that have hit bridges and military infrastructure in the south, Ukrainian forces are trying to retake territory the Russians have seized during the invasion, including the southern region of Kherson and part of the Zaporizhzhia region.
That has prompted Moscow to reassign troops from the Donbas to the south, where weekend bombardment on the port city of Mykolaiv injured several civilians and killed a grain tycoon and his wife.
“The Russian military command has been put before a dilemma: to try to press the offensive in the Donetsk region or build up defenses in the south,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said. “It’s going to be difficult for them to perform both tasks simultaneously for a long time.”
Russia has full command of Luhansk, one of the two provinces that make up the Donbas, but controls only about half of the other one, Donetsk. The British Defense Ministry said in its Monday update that the invading forces have made little progress in their attacks on the area northeast of Donetsk of late.
“Russia is probably adjusting the operational design of its Donbas offensive after failing to make a decisive operational breakthrough under the plan it had been following since April,” the ministry said. “It has likely identified its Zaporizhzhia front as a vulnerable area in need of reinforcement.”
Contributing: The Associated Press