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

  • Three grain ships are due to leave Ukrainian ports on Friday
  • 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 ships carrying a total of 58,041 tonnes of maize were allowed to leave Ukrainian ports on Friday as part of a deal to unblock grain exports, as an offensive Russia forced Ukraine to cede territory in the east.

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain allowed to leave port since the start of the war left Odessa on Monday bound for Lebanon, under a safe passage agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations.

The Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, which includes Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel, said two ships would depart from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa on Friday.

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“The three outgoing ships should leave in the morning from their respective ports,” he said.

From Chornomorsk the Polarnet would depart for Karasu in Turkey with 12,000 tonnes of maize and the Rojen would carry 13,041 tonnes of maize to Teesport in Britain.

From Odessa, the Navistar would transport 33,000 tonnes of maize to Ringaskiddy in Ireland.

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.

On Thursday afternoon, the Osprey S was anchored in the Sea of ​​Marmara, about 1 km (0.62 mile) off the Asian coast of Istanbul, with other ships waiting to cross the Bosphorus to join the Black Sea, according to a Reuters reporter.

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.

EAST FIGHT ‘HELL’

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 Kyiv acknowledged the “partial success” of its Russian enemy 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 news 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 a key 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. Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians and war crimes, charges Moscow denies

NATO CHIEF WARNS PUTIN

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

Zelenskiy hit back at Amnesty saying the organization was trying to “shift the blame from the perpetrator to the victim”. Read more

The White House said Thursday 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 Russia and Ukraine 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. Kyiv 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

While some Western politicians feared that Russia’s ambitions would extend beyond Ukraine, Stoltenberg warned Putin that the response to such a move from the Western military alliance 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.

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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