Turkish President Erdogan and UN chief Guterres meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in a high-stakes bid to ratchet down the Ukraine conflict that continues on its 176th day.

President Biden will use Presidential Drawdown Authority to authorise the transfer of excess weapons from US stocks, sources say.
President Biden will use Presidential Drawdown Authority to authorise the transfer of excess weapons from US stocks, sources say. (AP)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Report: US to release extra $800M security aid for Ukraine

President Joe Biden's administration is readying about $800 million of additional military aid to Ukraine and could announce it as soon as Friday, three sources familiar with the matter have told the Reuters news agency.

Biden would authorise the assistance using his Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorise the transfer of excess weapons from US stocks, the sources said.

They said the arms packages can change in value before they are announced. The White House declined to comment.

Russian munitions depot ablaze near Ukraine border

Two Russian villages have been evacuated after a fire broke out at an ammunition depot near the border with Ukraine, local authorities said.

"An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo," less than 50 kilometres from the Ukrainian border in Belgorod province, the region's governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement.

No casualties were reported, but residents of Timonovo and the nearby village of Soloti were "moved to a safe distance", he said, adding that authorities were investigating the cause of the fire.

A video posted on social media showed a huge fireball billowing a thick column of black smoke. Another video showed several explosions in quick succession in the distance.

Russia says UN proposal to demilitarise nuclear plant 'unacceptable'

Russia's Foreign Ministry has dismissed a proposal by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to demilitarise the area around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

During a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ivan Nechaev said the proposals were "unacceptable".

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was captured by Russia in March, shortly after it ordered tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it calls a "special military operation".

Türkiye, Ukraine, UN discuss ways to end Ukraine conflict

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says he has discussed possible ways of ending the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in a trilateral meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UN chief Antonio Guterres.

Speaking after the meeting in Ukraine's Lviv, Erdogan said they discussed using the positive atmosphere created by a Türkiye-brokered grain export deal to establish lasting peace.

He also said they discussed the exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and Russia and that he would later raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zelenskyy rules out any 'peace' with Russia without troop withdrawal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ruled out peace with Russia unless it withdraws its troops from Ukraine, speaking after talks with his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"First they should leave our territory and then we'll see," Zelenskyy told reporters.

Russia says nuclear weapons use possible only in emergencies

Russia's foreign ministry has said that Moscow would only use its nuclear arsenal in "emergency circumstances" and that it has no interest in a direct confrontation with NATO and the United States.

Russia's defence minister had said on Tuesday that Moscow had "no need" to use nuclear weapons during its military campaign in Ukraine, describing media speculation that Moscow might deploy nuclear or chemical weapons in the conflict as "absolute lies".

Speaking at a briefing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ivan Nechaev said nuclear weapons would be used solely as a "response" measure.

Russian tourists banned from entering Estonia

Estonia's visa ban on Russian tourists has come into force, according to local media.

Russian nationals holding Schengen visas issued by Estonia for tourism, business, sport, or cultural purposes will not be allowed to cross the Baltic country's border, reported public broadcaster ERR.

Russians whose visa was issued by another member of the Schengen area or who were already in the Schengen area will still be able to enter the country, which shares a border with Russia, added the report. Some exceptions to the measure were made.

Russia says 3 MiG warplanes moved to Kaliningrad region

Russia's Defence Ministry has said three MiG-31E warplanes equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have been relocated to its Kaliningrad region, Interfax has reported.

Russian state-owned news agency RIA cited the ministry as saying that the MiG jets would be on round-the-clock duty.

Kaliningrad, a Russian Baltic coast exclave located between NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania, became a flashpoint after Lithuania moved to limit goods transit to the region through its territory, with Russia promising retaliation.

Russian jets suspected of violating Finnish airspace: defence ministry

Two Russian MiG-31 fighter jets have been suspected of violating Finnish airspace near the coastal city of Porvoo on the Gulf of Finland, the Finnish defence ministry has said.

The suspected violation happened at 0640 GMT and the jets were westbound, communications chief Kristian Vakkuri said, adding the aircraft were in Finnish airspace for two minutes.

"The depth of the suspected violation into Finnish airspace was one kilometre," he said, but would not elaborate on whether the planes were escorted out.

Over 622,000 tonnes of shipments carried via Ukraine grain corridor

More than 622,000 tonnes of grain have been shipped from Ukrainian ports since August 1 as part of a recent grain export deal signed between Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine.

A total of 43 vessels have sailed for grain shipments, according to Türkiye’s National Defence Ministry.

The ministry said on Twitter that 25 of them have departed from Ukrainian ports and 18 went to Ukrainian ports for grain shipment.

One dead, over a dozen injured in shelling of Ukraine's Kharkiv

One person died and 18 were wounded in pre-dawn shelling of a residential area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Oleh Synehubov, the regional governor has said.

"At the moment, there are 18 wounded, among them two children, one person died," Synehubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

A day earlier six people died and another 16 were wounded in a Russian rocket attack on the city.

One more grain ship leaves Ukrainian port: Türkiye

One more ship has left a Ukrainian port under the Istanbul grain export deal, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said.

Belize-flagged ship carrying corn departed from the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk, the ministry said on Twitter.

It added that four ships will go to Ukraine for grain exports. Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal last month to resume grain exports from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Yuzhny, Chornomorsk, and Odessa, which were halted due to the Russia-Ukraine war, now in its sixth month.

For live updates from Wednesday (August 17), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies