Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 557

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Ukraine accuses Russia of trying to create a “food crisis” after attacks on port infrastructure

Ukraine has accused Russia of trying to create a food crisis after it attacked port infrastructure in the southern Odesa region.

At least two people were injured in the attacks, Ukrainian officials said. It is not clear where exactly was hit but an official said the port of Reni had been targeted.

The Danube river has become the main way for Ukraine to export its grain after the collapse of a UN and Turkey-brokered deal.

“Russian terrorists continue to attack port infrastructure in the hope that they will be able to provoke a food crisis and famine in the world,” the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said on the messaging platform Telegram.

“The main task for us and our partners today is to eliminate the ability of the Russian military-industrial complex to produce weapons for strikes against Ukraine. And to increase responsibility for those who help the enemy to circumvent sanctions,” he added.

“It [capability to produce weapons] cannot function without foreign components for weapons. After the destruction of the Russian military-industrial complex, the defeat of Russian troops will be complete.”

The Russian strike on the port in Odesa region came early Sunday, a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are scheduled to meet in Sochi, Russia with the grain deal likely to be a topic.

The meeting comes after Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated the country is willing to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal once it sees guarantees that promised benefits will be implemented. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has presented “a set of concrete proposals.”

Russia signed 280,000 for contract military service this year

Some 280,000 people have signed up so far this year for professional service with Russia’s military, the deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, former President Dmitry Medvedev, stated.

Visiting Russia’s far east, Medvedev added he was meeting local officials to work on efforts to beef up the armed forces.

“According to the Ministry of Defence, since January 1, about 280,000 people have been accepted into the ranks of the Armed Forces on a contract basis,” including reservists, state news agency TASS quoted Medvedev as saying.

Ukraine’s Western backers are ‘pro-Nazi coalition’: Ex-president

Washington and its allies in Europe and elsewhere continue to support Kiev despite it acting increasingly like the Nazis during World War II, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a Telegram post on Sunday.

Moscow should abandon hope of reconciling with the West and see it for what it is, he believes.

The leaders of Ukraine are “increasingly talking about ‘holding all Russians accountable’,” Medvedev stated, adding that Kiev sees all Russian citizens as ‘Russians’ regardless of their ethnic background. In a thinly veiled reference to the Nazis’ plans for the Soviet Union, the former president said that the world had already seen similar aspirations.

Medvedev noted that Ukraine is still being supported by almost every single Western leader, as well as by the heads of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. All of them “are direct and obvious Nazi accomplices,” he stated, adding that “they should be treated as the leaders of a pro-Nazi coalition.”

The former president, who now serves as the deputy head of Russia’s National Security Council and the Military Industrial Committee, then insisted that Russia should not “lapse into sweet daydreaming” about achieving reconciliation with the West and joining what he called a “big polyamory family of non-binary genders.”

Ukraine focuses on consolidating battlefield gains

“Consolidation” remained the watchword for the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Saturday following recent modest gains in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, while political figures in Kyiv, as well as US officials, pushed back against suggestions the Ukrainian counteroffensive is moving too slowly.

“The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on (the) Melitopol axis, consolidating their positions and conducting counter-battery fire,” the military’s General Staff wrote in a Saturday update on Facebook.

Melitopol is located south of Zaporizhzhia city.

Ukraine has been focusing efforts around the village of Robotyne in recent weeks as it tries to move south toward occupied cities on or near the coast of the Sea of Azov.

An unofficial Telegram channel belonging to Ukraine’s 46th Brigade suggested there had been fresh limited Ukrainian gains to the southeast of Robotyne, posting: “There is an extension of the bridgehead along the enemy’s defense line in the direction of Verbove. The area of control is being expanded for further actions.”

The channel also reported fighting on higher ground outside the neighboring village of Novoprokopivka.

Ukraine’s current counteroffensive against Russia’s forces has been underway for three months, and there have been growing concerns that it is failing to achieve expected results.

Cargo ships depart Ukraine despite Russian threat

Two cargo ships have left Ukraine and are near to Bulgaria despite Russian threats in the Black Sea.

The Anna-Theresa, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier holding 56,000 tons of pig iron, left the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny on Friday and is now close to Bulgarian territorial waters, said Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Ukrainian infrastructure minister.

A second vessel — the Ocean Courtesy, traveling with a Marshall Islands flag — left the same port on Friday with 172,000 tons of iron ore concentrate.

The vessel arrived at the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta shortly before noon on Saturday, according to Marine Traffic.

The two vessels sailed through a temporary corridor for civilian ships from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to the Bosporus, which avoids international waters.

Authorities at the Bulgarian port of Varna did not confirm on Saturday whether the Anna-Theresa will enter the port or continue to the Bosporus Strait.

The ships were the third and fourth vessels that used the interim corridor after Russia halted a wartime agreement aimed at ensuring safe grain exports from Ukraine.


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