Breakthrough in grain export talks in Ukraine as heavy shelling continues

Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey welcomed progress in talks aimed at resuming Russia’s blocked Black Sea grain exports and reducing the risk of starvation for millions, but an end to the war remained a long way off as the severe Shelling continued on Thursday.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Wednesday an agreement would be signed next week.

Ankara will ensure the security of transit shipments and the parties will jointly inspect grain shipments at ports, he added.

But UN chief Antonio Guterres said more work was needed before a deal could be finalized.

“We saw a crucial step forward,” Guterres told reporters in New York.

“We still need a lot of good will and commitments from all sides,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was optimistic in late-night comments: “The Ukrainian delegation reported to me that progress is being made.

“In the coming days we will coordinate the details with the UN Secretary-General.”

Turkey and Ukraine announced that they would set up a joint coordination center with Russia and the United Nations.

“Your task will be to carry out the overall supervision and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea,” Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Twitter.

The Russian Ministry of Defense initially did not comment.

In addition to being a major global wheat supplier, Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter, and Ukraine is a major producer of corn and sunflower oil.

An agreement is seen as crucial for food security, particularly in developing countries, and for stabilizing markets.

But Guterres warned there was “a long way to go” before there would be peace talks to end the war.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said there was sustained shelling in several cities.

Russian forces attacked a number of civilian facilities in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said on messaging app Telegram.

Rescuers and emergency teams are already working at the scene, he added.

In the industrialized Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, Russian missiles hit the industrial area of ​​Kramatorsk and power was cut off in some parts of the city, Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko wrote on Facebook.

A Russian strike destroyed a school in Donbass on Wednesday. No casualties were reported.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians.

“It’s all making me sick…monsters, just monsters, there’s no other word.

“A school – if they are allowed to grow up stupid themselves, why are they bombing our schools?” said resident Oleksandr, 60.

Daria, 15, told Reuters that the students hoped the war would be over soon and they would go back to school, but “now there is nothing to go back to”.

Russian media reported that Ukrainian forces have launched a new missile attack in a strategically important Russian-held southern area of ​​Kherson, which Kyiv wants to retake.

The RIA news agency quoted the Russian-installed Kherson Region Administration as saying Russian air defenses shot down five missiles, which were fired at the town of Nova Kakhovka, while debris from two of the missiles fell near a factory.

“According to preliminary information, there was another hit at a Russian ammunition factory in Sokil,” wrote Serhiy Khlan, an adviser to the Ukrainian head of Kherson province, on Facebook.

On Wednesday, TASS quoted a “separatist” official, Vitaly Kiselyov, as saying Russian and proxy forces had entered the city of Siversk in Donetsk province and could take it in a few days.

Donetsk and Luhansk form the Donbass region.

Russia has not launched any new attacks on the front line that includes Siversk, but the city has come under artillery shelling, Ukrainian forces said.

Reuters could not verify the Battlefield accounts.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has caused the greatest conflict in Europe since 1945.

Millions have fled, thousands have been killed, cities have been reduced to rubble and fears of a major conflict in the West have grown.

The Kremlin says it is involved in a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine.

Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss this as a false pretense, accusing Russia of exacerbating a global food crisis and fueling inflation.

Moscow has accused Ukraine of refusing to remove mines it has spread along its coast to protect itself from Russian attacks and which threaten shipping.

The Kremlin also says Western sanctions are making it harder for Russia to fund and insure its own sea freight services.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Pyotr Ilyichev, head of the international organizations department at Russia’s Foreign Ministry, as saying Russia wants to control and inspect grain ships itself to rule out arms smuggling.

Before progress on grain export talks was announced, diplomats said the plan under discussion involves Ukrainian ships guiding grain ships through mined port waters; Russia agrees to ceasefire as supplies move; and Turkey — backed by the United Nations — inspecting ships to allay Russian fears of arms smuggling.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/breakthrough-at-ukraine-grain-export-talks-as-heavy-shelling-continues-41838873.html Breakthrough in grain export talks in Ukraine as heavy shelling continues

Fry Electronics Team

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