A boy walks through a vegetable garden past the remains of a Russian battle tank destroyed in battles this spring in the village of Velika Tymerka, northeast of Kiev, on July 21, 2021 (AFP / Sergei CHUZAVKOV)
Russia’s military has bombed Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv again, killing three people there, and will sign a grain export deal with Ukraine on Friday that is eagerly awaited by the international community amid fears of a world famine.
A document that would allow war-blocked Ukrainian wheat to exit the Black Sea and ease restrictions on Russian grain and fertilizer shipments will be launched in Istanbul, Turkey, it was announced on Thursday, Russian gas supply day. Europe has somewhat recovered.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as well as representatives of the two combatants, will attend the signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace at 1.30pm GMT.
“We welcome the announcement of this agreement in principle, but now it is important for us (…) to allow Ukrainian grain to reach world markets,” the American diplomat commented.
“The Ukrainian delegation will only support solutions that guarantee the security of the southern regions of Ukraine, the strong position of the Ukrainian armed forces in the Black Sea and the safe export of Ukrainian agricultural products”, and very cautiously responded AFP Ukrainian Abroad. Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko.
The U.S. welcomed the deal, saying, “We should never have been in this situation,” while State Department spokesman Ned Price denounced the fact that Moscow was “using food as a weapon.”
– Danger at the Zaporizhia power plant –
Meanwhile, a fresh Russian bombing on Thursday killed three people and wounded 23, including four others, in the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine that has been under attack for weeks, regional governor Oleg Sinekobov announced. Already earlier in the day, three people, including a teenager, were killed near the bus stop there.
Harvesting in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, February 19, 2022 (AFP / SERGEY BOBOK)
In Kramatorsk, Donbass (east), a school was destroyed, according to Ukrainian authorities, who argued that it was being used to store food aid. Two people died under the rubble.
The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, said earlier in the day that Moscow’s goals were not limited to eastern Ukraine, but “other territories” and could extend further.
After invading Ukraine on February 24, Russian troops quickly arrived at the gates of the capital, Kew, and could not capture it. Since late March, Russia has said it wants to focus on Donbas, which has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
A market after a bombing in Baghmouth, eastern Ukraine on July 21, 2022 (AFP / Igor TKACHEV)
Russian soldiers have made advances in the mine basin in recent weeks, notably breaking the double lock on two cities in the Luhansk region, Severodonetsk and Lysizansk, allowing them to advance towards the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. West of the Donetsk region.
Kyiv said on Thursday that the Russians were stockpiling heavy weapons and ammunition “in the immediate vicinity” of sensitive installations at the site of Zaporizhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant occupied since March by an accidental explosion and fire scare. .
Moscow, for its part, noted attacks by Ukrainian drones on Monday, “a few tens of meters from structures critical to the safety of the plant”, and then again on Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch accused Russian and Ukrainian soldiers of “needlessly” putting civilians at risk. It has planted troops in populated areas such as school basements and health clinics.
A relative kneels in front of the body of a teenager killed by a Russian missile strike at a bus stop in Saltivka near Kharkiv on July 20, 2022 (AFP / SERGEY BOBOK)
The war in Ukraine must end to avoid a “collapse” of a “nuclear” conflict, as he ruled in an exclusive interview with the AFP Belarusian president.
Alexander Lukashenko, a key ally of Moscow, has given territory in his country to the Russian military so that it can launch an offensive on Ukraine on February 24.
American and British intelligence agencies also estimate that around 15,000 Russian soldiers have died since the war began.
“This is about the same level of casualties recorded by Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan during the ten-year intervention,” noted Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s Foreign Intelligence Service (MI6).
– Russian gas… economical –
In the latest episode in the Russian-Western energy standoff, Russia on Thursday restarted the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which connects Siberian gas fields directly to northern Germany, after a ten-day shutdown for maintenance work, according to Moscow.
However, it is operating at only 40% of its capacity, as before maintenance, German network operator Cascade lamented.
Onlookers look at destroyed Russian military vehicles on display in the center of the Ukrainian capital Kew on July 20, 2022 (AFP/MIGUEL MEDINA)
Austria and Italy also announced resumption of supplies.
“There is nothing technically preventing Nord Stream from returning to full-scale operation after its maintenance”, carried German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, for whom “Russia is a further uncertainty factor in the energy system”.
European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen earlier slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin for using gas as a “weapon” amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman of the Russian president, dismissed suspicions of “blackmail” on Thursday, for whom “these restrictions (imposed by Western countries, editor’s note) prevent the repair of equipment, especially turbines at compressor stations. “.
A view of a destroyed shopping center in the city of Kherson (Ukraine) on July 20, 2022 (AFP / STRINGER)
Ukraine, whose economy has been reeling since the start of the Russian invasion, announced a 25% devaluation of its national currency, the hryvnia, against the dollar on the same day.
“Such a move would strengthen the competitiveness of Ukrainian producers” and “support the stability of the economy in wartime conditions,” the central bank said in a statement.
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