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

  • Three grain ships leave the ports of Ukraine
  • The first ship scheduled to arrive in Ukraine since the start of the war
  • Zelensky says eastern fighting is ‘hell’
  • Amnesty International says Ukrainian forces are putting civilians at risk
  • NATO chief warns Putin not to go further

ISTANBUL/Kyiv (Reuters) – Three ships loaded with grain left Ukrainian ports on Friday under a recent safe passage agreement, the Turkish Defense Ministry and Reuters witnesses said.

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

“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 Infrastructures Mnister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook after the ships were launched. .

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

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

On Friday, two grain ships departed from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa with a total of 58 thousand tons of corn.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said on Twitter that the Panama-flagged tanker carrying 33,000 tons of corn bound for Ireland had left Odessa.

The Maltese-flagged ship Rogen, carrying 13,000 tons of corn, has left the port of Chornomorsk, bound for Britain. The Turkish-flagged ship, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, set off from Chornomorsk to the Turkish Black Sea port of Karasu.

The Odessa Regional Administration said the Liberian-flagged Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S is expected to arrive at the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk on Friday. It would be the first ship to reach a Ukrainian port during the war.

The Financial Times reports that Ukraine has called for an extension of the grain deal to include other products, such as minerals.

“This agreement relates to logistics and the movement of ships through the Black Sea,” Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka told the newspaper.

What is the difference between grain and iron ore?

East “Hell”

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 control of the region 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.

On Thursday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces had launched at least two attacks on Peske, but they had been repelled.

Ukraine has spent the past eight years fortifying defensive positions at Pesci, viewing it as a buffer against Russian-backed forces controlling the city of Donetsk about 10 kilometers to the southeast.

Ukrainian General Oleksiy Harumov told a news conference that his forces had recaptured two villages around the eastern city of Sloviansk, but had been returned to 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 could not immediately verify the assertions by either side.

Ukraine’s 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.

The Ukrainian General Staff said, on Friday, that the Russian bombing of dozens of towns across the country targeted civilian settlements as well as military infrastructure.

NATO warning

On Thursday, human rights group Amnesty International said Ukraine was putting civilians at risk by deploying its forces in residential areas. Read more

Zelensky responded that the group was trying to “transfer responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”. Read more

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

The Russian deputy ambassador to the United Nations responded in a tweet on Twitter, saying that US-made high-mobility artillery missile systems were used in the attack.

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

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

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

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

Amid concerns among some politicians in the West that Russia’s ambitions may extend beyond Ukraine, Stoltenberg warned Putin that the response to such a move would be overwhelming.

“If President Putin thinks of doing something similar to a country in NATO as he did with Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, all NATO members will participate immediately,” Stoltenberg said.

The war previously prompted Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership, with the application being ratified so far by 23 of the 30 member states, including the United States.

(This story re-updates the title to show the ships have left)

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Reporting by Reuters offices. writing by Michael Berry; Editing by Stephen Coates, Robert Persell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.