Three grain ships left Ukrainian ports on Friday, while the first inbound freighter since the Russian invasion was to be loaded into Ukraine later in the day as Kiev called for the safe-pass agreement to be extended to other cargoes, such as metals.
The July 22 deal marked a rare diplomatic breakthrough as war rages on in eastern Ukraine, with Kiev trying to rebuild its shattered economy after more than five months of conflict.
“We expect that the security guarantees of our partners from the UN and Turkey will continue to work and that food exports from our ports will become stable and predictable for all market participants,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook after the ships departed. .
The first grain ship left Odessa on Monday.
“This agreement is about logistics, about the movement of ships through the Black Sea,” Ukraine’s Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka told the TSWT. “What is the difference between grain and iron ore?”
The Kremlin said a solution can only be found if it is linked to lifting restrictions on Russian metal producers.
The United Nations and Turkey reached an agreement on safe passage between Moscow and Kiev following UN warnings of famine outbreaks following the cessation of grain shipments from Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, sparking Europe’s worst conflict since World War II and fueling a global energy and food crisis.
On Friday, two grain ships departed from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa, carrying a total of about 58,000 tons of corn, the Turkish defense ministry said.
Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S, which flies the flag of Liberia, was expected to arrive in Chornomorsk on Friday to load grain, the Odessa regional administration said.
Russia and Ukraine traditionally produce about a third of the world’s wheat and Russia is Europe’s main energy supplier. But Russia said Friday it may not meet its projected crop of 130 million tons of grain due to weather conditions and a lack of spare parts for foreign-made equipment.
Ukraine’s grain exports fell 48.6% year-on-year this season to 1.23 million tons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
After five months of fighting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week described the pressure his forces faced in the eastern Donbas region as “hell”.
Moscow is trying to control the largely Russian-speaking Donbas, comprising the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, where pro-Moscow separatists conquered territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014.
Zelenskiy spoke of fierce fighting around the town of Avdiivka and the fortified village of Pisky, where Ukraine has recognized the “partial success” of its Russian enemy in recent days.
The Russian news agency TASS quoted separatist forces as saying that Russian and pro-Russian forces had taken full control of Pisky. They also said there was fighting in the town of Bakhmut, north of Donetsk.
Ukraine has spent the past eight years strengthening defensive positions in Pisky, seeing it as a buffer zone against Russian-backed forces holding the city of Donetsk about 10 km to the southeast.
Ukrainian General Oleksiy Hromov said his forces had recaptured two villages around the eastern city of Sloviansk, but had been driven back to the city of Avdiivka after being forced to abandon a coal mine considered an important defensive position.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed its offensive.
Reuters was unable to immediately verify both sides’ claims about developments on the battlefield.
The war has displaced millions, killed thousands of civilians and left towns and villages in ruins. Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of attacking civilians and committing war crimes, the charges Russia rejects.
Putin said he launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine to ensure Russian security and protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine. Kiev accuses Moscow of an imperialist war to recapture a pro-Western neighbor who shook off Russian rule when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the war is the most dangerous moment for Europe since World War II and that Russia must not win.
Reuters’ road to stalemate in Russia-Ukraine war: https://tmsnrt.rs/3zg0pGp
(Reporting by Reuters agencies; writing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie; editing by Stephen Coates, Robert Birsel and Mark Heinrich)
Photo: A boat carrying Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials sails to the Sierra Leone-flagged freighter Razoni to verify grain shipments are in compliance with a crucial agreement signed by Moscow and Kiev last month. The Razoni was detained on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, in an inspection area in the Black Sea off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey. Loaded with 26,000 tons of maize, the Razoni departed Odessa, Ukraine, on August 1, bound for its final destination in Lebanon. Photo credit: TSWT Photo/Emrah Gurel.
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