Ukraine war update: UN hopes to end impasse on grain shipments in high stakes talks between Ukraine, Russia

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Ukraine says its grain exports will not resume until Russia provides security guarantees for ship and cargo owners and the country’s shipping ports. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made the remarks to The Associated Press Wednesday ahead of planned face-to-face talks with Moscow. Officials from both countries agreed to meet in Istanbul to discuss a United Nations plan to release blocked grain shipments to world markets through the Black Sea. 

Kuleba said that Ukraine won’t agree to any resolution on grain exports until Russia ensures that it “will respect these corridors, they will not sneak into the harbor and attack ports or that they will not attack ports from the air with their missiles.”

The U.N. hopes to establish a center in Istanbul to control the shipments, Turkish officials have said. 

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has been sounding the alarm for months that the war has endangered food supplies for many developing nations, where over 180 million people struggle with hunger.

Russia begins de facto annexation of seized territories 

The meeting in Istanbul will mark the first time that officials from Ukraine and Russia have met for talks in months; however, Kuleba said he does not expect negotiations aimed at ending the war to take place anytime soon.

“Russia continues to be in the war mood, and they are not seeking negotiations in good faith. They are seeking a way to make us implement their ultimatums, which is not going to happen,” Kuleba said.

He also noted that Moscow has launched an effort to force Ukrainians to assimilate to Russian culture in Kherson, Mariupol, and other areas it has seized by issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians, forcing businesses to use Russian currency, and introducing Russian curriculum in schools.

“I’m pretty confident that once these territories are liberated, the vast majority of people will burn their Russian passports quietly in their fireplaces,” Kuleba said. 

The foreign minister also reiterated Ukraine’s insistence on a full withdrawal of Russian forces as a condition for ending the conflict and said his country is “planning and preparing for full liberation” of Russian-occupied cities and towns near the country’s Black Sea coast. Ukrainian forces have been ramping up efforts to retake territory in the south while Russia remains focused on eastern Ukraine.

“We are fighting for our freedom, for our territorial integrity, and we want peace. This war was imposed on us. This was not our choice,” he said.

Kuleba stressed that his country is grateful for the support it has received from the West but said that Ukraine needs more, and faster, weapons deliveries.

“As long as there is not enough to win, we will keep asking for more,” he said. 

Ukraine rocket kills 52 in Kherson region

Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday that it launched long-range rocket attacks on Russian forces in southern Ukraine, destroying an ammunition store. The strike on Russian-backed Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region killed 52 people, Ukraine officials said. The area is strategically important because of its access to the Black Sea.

“Based on the results of our rocket and artillery units, the enemy lost 52 [people], an Msta-B howitzer, a mortar and seven armored and other vehicles, as well as an ammunition depot in Nova Kakhovka,” Ukraine’s southern military command said in a statement.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported that at least seven people had been killed and around 70 injured in the attacks which it claimed struck civilians.

Ukraine did not specify the type of long-range rocket systems it used in the strikes, but the attack followed shipments of U.S.-supplied HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) to Ukraine, which its military says it has used to great effect.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that Russian fighter jets shot down two Ukrainian military jets over the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine and one in the south over the Mykolaiv region.