Russian and Ukrainian officials hold talks in Istanbul over stalled grain deliveries, while Kiev says it has destroyed a Russian arms depot as fighting rages on the 140th day.

While Russian forces have set their sights set on the eastern Donbass region and are pushing for full control, the Ukrainian military is trying to reclaim captured land in the south.
While Russian forces have set their sights set on the eastern Donbass region and are pushing for full control, the Ukrainian military is trying to reclaim captured land in the south. (AFP)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Ukraine severs ties with North Korea over recognition of breakaway regions

Ukraine has severed diplomatic relations with North Korea over Pyongyang's recognition of two breakaway self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's east.

"We consider this decision as an attempt by Pyongyang to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

Earlier, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said their self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic had been recognised by North Korea. There has been no immediate comment from North Korea.

EU says Lithuania must allow rail transit of Russian goods to Kaliningrad

The European Union says Lithuania has an obligation to allow the passage of sanctioned goods, with the exception of weapons, between Russia and its enclave of Kaliningrad.

While transit by road was not allowed, legal guidance released by the EU executive said that "no such prohibition exists for rail transport" from Russia to Kaliningrad and that it could not be subject to an outright ban.

Russia threatened reprisals against the Baltic nation last month after Lithuania imposed strict restrictions on goods travelling across its territory, mainly by rail. Vilnius argued it was simply applying EU sanctions.

US blasts Moscow for 'forced deportations' of Ukrainians to Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of forcibly deporting up to 1.6 million Ukrainians to Russia, charging Moscow with a deliberate criminal operation to depopulate parts of Ukraine.

In a statement a day before the Ukraine Accountability Conference in the Hague on alleged "war crimes" in Ukraine, Blinken said Moscow is conducting a "filtration" operation to relocate Ukrainians from the occupied east and south to areas deep inside Russia.

"The unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and  is  a war crime," Blinken said. He said that estimates from sources including the Russian government itself indicate that from 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainians have been taken into Russia, including to isolated areas in the Russian Far East.

Over 9 million border crossings registered from Ukraine: UN agency

More than 9 million people have crossed the border from Ukraine since Russia attacked the country, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

A total of 9,136,006 border crossings have been recorded since the Russian assault began on February 24, the agency's tally showed on Wednesday.

Russian opposition figure Yashin placed in pre-trial detention: Court

A Moscow court has ordered one of the last opposition figures still in Russia, Ilya Yashin, to be detained for two months before trial for having denounced Moscow's Ukraine offensive.

Judge Nataliya Dudar ruled to leave Yashin behind bars until September 12. If convicted, he faces up to a decade in prison for spreading "false information" on Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

Russian and proxy forces enter Ukraine's Siversk: TASS

Russian and Russian-backed separatist forces have entered the town of Sieversk in Ukraine's Donetsk region, the Russian state news agency TASS has said.

Sieversk, which is claimed by the Donetsk People's Republic — a breakaway territory that Moscow is trying to prise out of Kiev's control, lies on the frontline of the battle for Ukraine's eastern Donbass region after Ukrainian troops abandoned the city of Sievierodonetsk last month.

Ukraine's armed forces said in a note that Russia had not conducted any new assaults on the frontline that includes Siversk, but that the town had been fired upon by artillery.

Ukraine says arms smuggling claims are Russian propaganda

Ukraine has accused Russia of spreading propaganda about the proliferation of illegal arms smuggling resulting from Moscow's aggression and said it is closely monitoring the delivery of Western-supplied weapons to front lines.

"All the weapons received by Ukraine, including long-range ones, are carefully accounted (for) and sent to the frontline," said Ukraine presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak. Podolyak described the supply of weapons by Washington and European allies as "a matter of survival" for Ukraine and said that oversight of those deliveries was "a priority" for his government.

His comments come after the EU announced this week it would create a hub in Moldova to battle organised crime, particularly arms smuggling from neighbouring Ukraine.

Ukraine rules out ceding territory to Russia to secure peace

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has ruled out ceding territory to Russia as part of any peace deal and said no peace talks were under way between Moscow and Kiev.

"The objective of Ukraine in this war...is to liberate our territories, restore our territorial integrity, and full sovereignty in the east and south of Ukraine," he told a briefing. "This is the end point of our negotiating position."

He made clear at Wednesday's briefing that broader peace talks remained frozen. "Currently there are no (peace) talks between Russia and Ukraine because of Russia's position and its continued aggression against our country," Kuleba said.

Russian shelling kills five in Mykolaiv region: Ukraine

At least five people have been killed in Russian shelling in the region surrounding the embattled Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea, the presidency has said.

The presidential deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko said a barrage of 28 rocket strikes had damaged a hospital and homes in several parts of the Mykolaiv region. "There were also artillery strikes in the Vitovsk district and according to preliminary information five civilians were killed," he said.

Russia's defence ministry said it had targeted Mykolaiv with "high-precision surface-to-air missiles," claiming to have killed dozens of soldiers east of the city. Russia denies targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Kiev denies Russia shot down four Ukrainian jets

Ukraine's air force have denied that Russian forces shot down four Ukrainian military jets in Ukraine.

The Russian defence ministry said Russian forces had destroyed an Su-25 and Su-24 — both Soviet-era jets used by the Ukrainian air force — over the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine along with another Su-25 and a Mig-29, another Soviet-designed fighter aircraft, in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine.

Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force, dismissed the assertion as propaganda.

Russia seeks to keep Kremlin critic Yashin in jail

Russian investigators have asked a Moscow court to keep one of the country's last remaining opposition figures in jail until his trial for "discrediting" the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

Ilya Yashin, a Moscow city councillor and staunch Kremlin critic, faces up to 10 years behind bars over "spreading false information" about Russia's armed forces.

"The investigation asks to choose a preventative measure (in the form of detention) until September 12, 2022," Russian media cited Moscow's Basmanny court press service as saying.

Russia says shot down four Ukrainian jets

Russia's defence ministry has said that Russian forces shot down four Ukrainian military jets in Ukraine.

Russian forces destroyed an Su-25 and Su-24 - both Soviet-era jets used by the Ukrainian air force - over the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine along with another Su-25 and a Mig-29, another Soviet-designed fighter aircraft, in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine, the defence ministry said in a daily briefing.

The report was not independently verified.

Ukraine sees grain exports deal with Russia in reach

Ukraine is "two steps away" from hammering out a deal with Russia on exporting Ukrainian grain to the international markets, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told Spanish newspaper El Pais before multilateral talks on the issue in Istanbul.

Türkiye has been working with the United Nations to broker a deal after Russia's February 24 offensive in Ukraine fueled a surge in prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilisers and leading to a global food crisis.

"We are ready to export grain to the international market...We are two steps away from a deal with Russia," Kuleba said, according to the El Pais report.

Russia would consider gas transit via Ukraine beyond 2024

Russia will consider continuing to send gas to Europe via Ukraine beyond its current deal which ends in 2024, as long as European countries still want Russian gas and Ukraine's national transit system works, the RIA Novosti news agency has cited the foreign ministry as saying.

Despite the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has continued to ship large quantities of gas across Ukraine into Europe - Moscow's key global customer for its multi-billion dollar gas exports.

Ukraine reports striking Russian ammunition depot in south

The Ukrainian military has reported destroying a Russian ammunition depot in southern Ukraine, resulting in a massive explosion captured on social media, while rescuers said the death toll from a weekend Russian strike in the country's east grew to 45.

An overnight rocket strike targeted the depot in Russian-held Nova Kakhovka, the Ukrainian military's southern command said. Nova Kakhovka is about 55 kilometres east of the Black Sea port city of Kherson, which is also occupied by Russian forces.

The precision of the strike suggested Ukrainian forces used US-supplied multiple-launch High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS. 

Russia's Tass news agency offered a different account of the blast in Nova Kakhovka, saying that a mineral fertilizer storage facility exploded and that a market, hospital and houses were damaged.

Ukraine, Russia to hold grain talks as conflict sends food prices soaring

Russian and Ukrainian officials are preparing to hold talks in Türkiye's Istanbul city over stalled grain deliveries that have pushed global food prices skywards.

Ukraine is one of the world's biggest exporters of wheat and other grain, but shipments have been blocked by both Russian warships and mines that Kiev has laid across the Black Sea.

Türkiye, which has spearheaded efforts to resume the essential grain trade, will host the talks, which will also be attended by a UN delegation.

For live updates from Tuesday (July 12), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies