Ukraine warns of new Russian offensive; Sweden and Finland move closer to NATO membership

  • Ukraine warns of new Russian offensive in the south
  • A strike force targeting the hometown of the president, according to Ukraine
  • The United States and Italy approve the membership of Finland and Sweden in NATO
  • Ukraine calls on China to help end war, says SCMP

KYIV/WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine said Russia had started creating a military strike force targeting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih as NATO moved closer to expanding the most prominent in decades as the alliance responded to the invasion of Ukraine. .

Both the US Senate and the Italian parliament on Wednesday approved Finland and Sweden joining the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Under NATO membership, which must be ratified by all 30 member states, an attack on one member is an attack on all. Read more

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the United States’ sustained, bipartisan commitment to NATO and ensuring that our Alliance is ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” the President said. American Joe Biden in a statement.

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Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO.

The 30 NATO allies signed the membership protocol last month, allowing them to join the US-led nuclear alliance once its members ratify the decision. Read more

Ratification could take up to a year.

Ukraine rejected suggestions by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday that Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the five-month war and said any dialogue would depend on a Russian ceasefire and the withdrawal of his troops.

Tentative attempts at peace talks in March came to nothing.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday that Ukraine is seeking an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end the war.

In an interview with SCMP, Zelenskiy urged China to use its political and economic influence over Russia to end the fighting.

“It’s a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy… So (it) can influence Russia politically and economically. And China is (also) a permanent member of the UN Security Council,” Zelenskiy said. , cited by the report.

NEW SOUTH OFFENSIVE

On the battlefield, Russian forces have engaged in considerable military activity, firing from tanks, guns and rocket artillery into several parts of Ukraine, the Russian Forces General Staff said on Thursday. Ukrainian armies in its update.

Previously, Ukraine warned that Moscow may prepare new offensive operations in southern Ukraine. Read more

Dmytro Zhyvytsky, governor of the Sumy region on the border with Russia, said three towns were shelled by Russian forces on Wednesday, with a total of 55 missiles fired. There were no injuries, but homes and business premises were damaged.

He said eight artillery shells hit residential areas in the Krasnopilska community.

Mayor Yevhen Yevtushenko of Nikopol, west of Zaporizhzhia in central Ukraine, said on his Telegram channel that his town was shelled overnight.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in an interview broadcast on YouTube that the purpose of the Russian offensive in the east was to force Ukraine to divert troops from the area that is really dangerous – Zaporizhzhia.

In March, Russia was accused of firing shells dangerously close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as its forces captured it in the first weeks of the invasion.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Moscow of using Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant as a “nuclear shield” during attacks on Ukrainian forces. Read more

Reuters was unable to verify reports from the battlefield.

Russia denies targeting civilians, but scores of towns have been destroyed and thousands killed in Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russian forces of war crimes.

FOOD CRISIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in what he called a “special military operation” to rid the country of fascists. Ukraine and the West have said Putin launched an “imperial” land grab without provocation.

The war triggered a global energy and food crisis. Russia and Ukraine produce about a third of the world’s wheat, and Russia is Europe’s main energy supplier.

A deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, to allow safe passage for grain ships from Ukraine has been hailed as a rare diplomatic success in the war.

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain since the start of the war crossed the Bosphorus Strait on Wednesday.

The ship, Razoni, left Odessa on the Black Sea early Monday, carrying 26,527 tonnes of maize to the Lebanese port of Tripoli. Read more

Zelenskiy said Ukraine needed to export at least 10 million tonnes of grain to urgently help reduce its budget deficit which stood at $5 billion a month.

A senior Turkish official said three ships could leave Ukrainian ports every day after the Razoni sailed, while Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said another 17 ships had been loaded with agricultural products and were waiting to set sail.

(This story corrects lead to remove apostrophe)

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Michael Perry and Himani Sarkar

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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