- Three grain ships leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports
- Turkey says the world cannot end the war by ignoring Russia
- Ukraine imposes a curfew in the main front-line city of Mykolaiv
ISTANBUL/Kyiv (Reuters) – Three grain ships left Ukrainian ports on Friday while the first incoming cargo ship since the Russian invasion was due to arrive in Ukraine later in the day, as Kyiv called for an extension of the safe passage agreement to include other shipments such as minerals.
The July 22 agreement marks a rare diplomatic breakthrough as war rages in eastern Ukraine, as Kyiv tries to rebuild its shattered economy after more than five months of conflict.
“We expect that the security guarantees of our partners from the United Nations and Turkey will continue to operate, and food exports from our ports will become stable and predictable for all market participants,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kobrakov said on Facebook after the ships set off. .
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The first grain ship left from Odessa on Monday.
“This agreement concerns logistics and the movement of ships through the Black Sea,” Ukraine’s Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka told the Financial Times. What is the difference between grain and iron ore?
The Kremlin said that a solution could only be found if it was linked to the lifting of restrictions on Russian mineral producers.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the safe passage agreement between Moscow and Kiev after the United Nations warned of an outbreak of famine due to the halt in grain shipments from Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, sparking Europe’s largest conflict since World War II and leading to a global energy and food crisis.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said two grain ships set off from Chornomorsk on Friday and one from Odessa carrying a total of 58,000 tons of corn.
The Odessa regional administration said the Liberian-flagged Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S is expected to arrive in Chornomorsk on Friday to load it with grain.
Ukraine would like to include the ports in the southern Mykolaiv region, to the east of Odessa, in the safe passage deal, although they were repeatedly bombed throughout the invasion.
The district governor said that the city of Mykolaiv itself will impose an unusually long curfew from late Friday to Monday morning as authorities try to arrest people cooperating with Russia.
Mykolaiv is located near the Russian-occupied parts of the strategically important Kherson region where Ukraine plans to launch a counterattack.
Russia and Ukraine traditionally produce about a third of the world’s wheat and Russia is the main supplier of energy to Europe. But Russia said on Friday that it may not reach its expected harvest of 130 million tons of grain due to weather factors and a lack of spare parts for foreign-made equipment.
Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said Ukraine’s grain exports fell 48.6 percent year-on-year to 1.23 million tons so far this season.
After five months of fighting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week described the pressure on his armed forces in the eastern Donbass region as “hell”.
Moscow is seeking to control the largely Russian-speaking Donbass region consisting of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014.
Zelensky spoke of fierce fighting around the town of Avdiivka and the fortified village of Peske, as Ukraine acknowledged the “partial success” of its Russian opponent in recent days.
Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the separatist forces as saying that Russian and pro-Russian forces had fully taken control of Pesci. They also said that the fighting was taking place in the city of Bakhmut, north of Donetsk. Read more
Ukraine has spent the past eight years fortifying defensive positions at Pesci, seeing it as a buffer against Russian-backed forces controlling the city of Donetsk about 10 kilometers to the southeast.
Ukrainian General Oleksiy Hromov said his forces had recaptured two villages around the eastern city of Sloviansk but had been pushed into the town of Avdiivka after being forced to abandon a coal mine considered an important defensive position.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed its attack.
Reuters was not immediately able to verify assertions by either side about developments on the battlefield.
The war has displaced millions, killed thousands of civilians and left cities, towns and villages in ruins. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russian forces of targeting civilians and committing war crimes, charges that Russia rejects.
Fahrettin Altun, a top aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the safe passage agreement testifies to the success of Turkey’s efforts and direct diplomacy between Putin and Erdogan.
“The international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Russia. Diplomacy and peace must prevail,” he said as Erdogan headed to Russia to meet Putin. Read more
Putin said he launched what he called a “special military operation” in Ukraine to ensure Russian security and protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. Kyiv accuses Moscow of waging an imperial-style war to restore its pro-Western neighbor that removed Russian hegemony when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991.
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Michael Perry and Nick McPhee; Editing by Stephen Coates, Robert Persell and Mark Heinrich
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