Three grain ships leave Ukraine; NATO chief says Russia must not win

  • Three grain ships leave Ukrainian ports
  • First ship to arrive in Ukraine since the start of the war
  • East fights “hell”, says Zelenskiy
  • Amnesty says Ukrainian troops endanger civilians
  • NATO chief warns Putin not to go further

ISTANBUL/Kyiv, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Three grain-laden ships left Ukrainian ports on Friday as part of a recently concluded safe passage agreement, Turkey’s Defense Ministry and Reuters witnesses said.

The first grain ship to sail from a Ukrainian port since the start of the Russian invasion left Odessa on Monday.

“We hope that the security guarantees of our UN partners and Turkey will continue to work and that food exports from our ports will become stable and predictable for all market players,” said Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov on Facebook after the ships left. .

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In a rare diplomatic breakthrough in the five-month war, the United Nations and Turkey brokered a safe passage agreement between Moscow and Kyiv, after the United Nations warned of famines due to halted Ukrainian grain shipments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, sparking the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II and sparking a global energy and food crisis. Ukraine and Russia produce about a third of the world’s wheat, and Russia is Europe’s main energy supplier.

On Friday, two grain ships left from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa, with a total of about 58,000 tons of corn.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said on Twitter that the Navistar, flying the Panamanian flag, carrying 33,000 tonnes of maize bound for Ireland, had left Odessa.

The Maltese-flagged Rojen, carrying 13,000 tons of maize, left the port of Chornomorsk bound for Great Britain. The Polarnet vessel, flying the Turkish flag, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, left Chornomorsk for the Turkish port of Karasu on the Black Sea.

The Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S, flying the flag of Liberia, was due to arrive in the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk on Friday, the Odessa regional administration said. It would be the first ship to arrive in a Ukrainian port during the war.

Ukraine has called for the grain deal to be extended to other products, such as metals, the Financial Times reported.

“This agreement is about logistics, the movement of ships through the Black Sea,” Ukrainian Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka told the newspaper.

“What is the difference between grain and iron ore? »

“HELL” OF THE EAST

After five months of fighting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week described the strain on his armed forces in the eastern Donbass region as “hell”.

Moscow is seeking control of the largely Russian-speaking Donbass, made up of the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, where pro-Moscow separatists took control of the territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea from the south in 2014.

Zelenskiy spoke of fierce fighting around the town of Avdiivka and the fortified village of Pisky, where Ukraine has acknowledged the “partial success” of its enemy Russia in recent days.

Ukraine’s military said Thursday that Russian forces mounted at least two assaults on Pisky but were repelled.

Ukraine has spent the past eight years fortifying defensive positions in Pisky, viewing it as a buffer zone against Russian-backed forces controlling the city of Donetsk some 10 km to the southeast.

Ukrainian General Oleksiy Hromov told a press conference that his forces recaptured two villages around the eastern city of Sloviansk but were pushed back to the town of Avdiivka after being forced to abandon a coal mine considered as an important defensive position.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed its offensive.

Reuters could not immediately verify the claims of either party.

The war in Ukraine has displaced millions of people, killed thousands of civilians and left cities, towns and villages in ruins. Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians and war crimes, charges Russia denies.

On Friday, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian bombardments of dozens of towns across the country again targeted civilian settlements as well as military infrastructure.

NATO WARNING

Human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that Ukraine was endangering civilians by basing troops in residential areas. Read more

Zelenskiy fired back saying the group was trying to “shift the blame from the abuser to the victim”. Read more

The White House said it expected Russian officials to try to frame Ukrainian forces for an attack on the frontline town of Olenivka last week that killed prisoners held by separatists backed by Moscow. Read more

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN responded in a post on Twitter, saying US-made high-mobility artillery rocket systems were used in the attack.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he would launch a fact-finding mission after both sides called for an investigation. Read more

Putin says he launched his “special military operation” in Ukraine to ensure Russian security and protect Russian speakers in Ukraine.

Both Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an imperial-style unprovoked war of aggression.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the war was the most dangerous time for Europe since World War II and that Russia must not be allowed to win. Read more

As some Western politicians feared Russia’s ambitions would extend beyond Ukraine, Stoltenberg warned Putin that the response to such a move would be overwhelming.

“If President Putin even thinks about doing something similar to a NATO country like he did with Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, then all of NATO will be involved immediately,” Stoltenberg said. .

The war has led the previously unaligned Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, the application having so far been ratified by 23 of the 30 member states, including the United States.

(This story refiles to update the title to show the ships are gone)

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Michael Perry; Editing by Stephen Coates, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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