Ukraine Grain Shipment Reaches Turkey

A second shipment of Ukrainian wheat reached Turkey on Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse. Russia had threatened to attack vessels headed to or from Ukraine.  However, Ukraine is now testing shipping waters controlled by NATO members Bulgaria and Romania. The Palau-flagged ship is headed to Egypt.

Gasoline and diesel customers of Russia have “highly likely” experienced local shortages, the British Defense Ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ministry said Russia suspended almost all diesel and gasoline exports on Thursday “to stabilize its internal markets.” That move, according to the ministry, “will almost certainly” further limit supplies globally.

The shortages are “unlikely” a direct result of the war but are instead “probably” caused by several factors, including “short term increases” in agricultural demands, the summer maintenance needs of refineries, and “attractive” export prices.

Countries currently depending on Russia for the supplies will “likely” be impacted the most, the ministry said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted Saturday that the Black Sea Grain Initiative allowing safe passage for Ukrainian exports will not be revived and castigated Ukraine’s proposed 10-point peace plan, calling both “not realistic.”

Lavrov addressed the United Nations General Assembly at the annual gathering of world leaders at U.N. headquarters in New York. In a week of global diplomacy, Ukraine and its Western allies sought to rally support for Kyiv on its defensive war against Russian aggression.

“It is completely not feasible,” Lavrov said of the peace plan initiated by Kyiv. “It is not possible to implement this. It’s not realistic and everybody understands this, but at the same time, they say this is the only basis for negotiations.”

Lavrov said the conflict would be resolved on the battlefield if Kyiv and the West persisted in that position.

Lavrov also said Moscow left the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian agricultural exports, because promises made to Russia had not been fulfilled.

He said the latest U.N. proposals to revive that export corridor also were “simply not realistic.”

Lavrov also lashed out at “the U.S. and its subordinate Western collective,” for stoking conflicts “which artificially divide humanity into hostile blocks and hamper the achievement of overall aims. They’re doing everything they can to prevent the formation of a genuine multipolar world order,” he said.

Lavrov addressed the U.N. General Assembly four days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden.

During his speech, Zelenskyy accused Russia of weaponizing food, energy and even children against Ukraine and “the international rules-based order” at large.

Biden struck a similar note, while urging world leaders to keep up support for Ukraine: “If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” he mused.

Pope Francis suggested Saturday that some countries were “playing games” with Ukraine by first supplying weapons and then mulling on whether they should back out of their promises.

The pope’s comments to a reporter’s question, aboard a plane returning from the French port city of Marseilles, reflected frustration that his efforts to bring about peace in Ukraine had not succeeded.

Francis has condemned the international arms trade in general but said last year that it is morally legitimate for nations to supply weapons to Ukraine’s defensive war against Russian aggression.

Several countries, including the United States, face domestic political pressure to stop or reduce spending on military aid to Ukraine.

During a stopover in Poland Saturday, Zelenskyy presented state awards to two Polish volunteers in Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression. He honored Bianka Zalewska, a journalist who helped transport wounded children to Polish hospitals, and Damian Duda, who gathered a medical team to help wounded soldiers near the front line.

During his visit he did not meet with Polish officials as the relations between Ukraine and Poland are strained over Poland’s ban on Ukraine’s grain imports.

Zelenskyy offended his neighbors when he told the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Kyiv was working to preserve land routes for grain exports, but that the “political theater” around imports was only helping Moscow.

Ukraine targets Sevastopol

Meanwhile, Ukraine targeted the Crimean-occupied city of Sevastopol on Saturday morning, leaving the city of 500,000 under an air alert for about an hour after debris from intercepted missiles fell near a pier, the Russian-installed regional governor Mikhail Razvozhayev wrote on the messaging app Telegram.

It was the second missile assault in as many days after Friday’s Ukrainian strike on the headquarters of Russia’s navy in Crimea that reportedly left dozens dead and wounded, including senior fleet commanders.

In an interview Friday with VOA’s Ukrainian Service, Ukraine’s intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said at least nine people were killed and 16 were injured, among them, Russian generals.

“Among the wounded is the commander of the group, Colonel-General [Alexander] Romanchuk, in a very serious condition. The chief of staff, Lieutenant General [Oleg] Tsekov, is comatose,” he said.

Alexander Romanchuk is the commander of a group of Russian forces in the Zaporizhzhia region and was promoted to the rank of colonel-general in 2023. Tsekov is the commander of the 200 OMSBR Coastal Forces of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy.

Budanov did not confirm reports about the alleged death of the commander of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, Admiral Viktor Sokolov.

Budanov’s claims could not be independently verified.

Ukraine has increasingly targeted naval facilities in Crimea in recent weeks, while its counteroffensive makes slow gains in the east and south of Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War said Thursday.

Military experts say it is essential for Ukraine to maintain its attacks on targets in Crimea to degrade Russian morale and weaken its military.

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