Three ships leave Ukraine through Black Sea carrying metal products
Another three ships were able to leave Ukraine through the Black Sea, despite the termination of a UN-brokered deal that allowed grain to be exported from ports in the Odesa region, but this time carrying metal products.
The vessels, Primus, Anna Tereza and Ocean Courtesy, which had been stuck in Ukraine since before the Russia’s full scale invasion on February 24, became the second, third and fourth ships respectively that have managed to leave Ukrainian ports since the termination of the grain agreement in July.
The ships are carrying products of Ukrainian steelmakers and miners, including “over 76,000 tonnes of rolled steel produced by Azovstal, Zaporizhstal, Kamet Steel and ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, as well as 172,000 tonnes of iron ore concentrate produced at Metinvest Group’s mining and processing plants,” said Metinvest in a statement Tuesday.
The international steel and mining group has operations in Ukraine as well as in other European countries and the US.
Metinvest said the ships were able to effectively break what it called “a maritime blockade” by Russia of Ukraine’s seaports, opening the door for further exports.
“This means the accelerated recovery of Ukraine’s economy, which has suffered enormous losses, including due to the illegal blockade of Ukraine’s ports by the Russian Federation,” said Oleksandr Vodoviz, the head of the Metinvest CEO’s Project Office, adding that a full unblocking of ports for all cargo will help “bring additional tens of billions of dollars of foreign currency earnings annually to the Ukrainian economy.”
North Korea seeking advanced technology from Russia for weapons in potential deal: US officials
As the US government says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin for discussions on a potential deal to supply Moscow with weapons for its war on Ukraine, Washington and its allies are concerned about the technology Pyongyang is seeking in return, according to two US officials.
North Korea is looking for technology from Russia that could advance its satellite and nuclear-powered submarine capabilities, officials said. Both kinds of technology could significantly advance North Korea’s capabilities in areas that the rogue regime has not fully developed.
Just last month, North Korea’s second attempt to launch a spy satellite into orbit failed, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea does not currently have any nuclear-powered submarines, according to an assessment of their submarines from Nuclear Threat Initiative, a think-tank focused on reducing nuclear threats.
Kim’s possible visit to Russia comes as the US has expressed increasing concerns about North Korea’s military assistance to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine – a move that would be in breach of US sanctions.
Turkey in close contact with UN on grain deal: Erdogan
Turkey is in close contact with the United Nations on reviving the Black Sea grain deal, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly said.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Russia with President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan stated the latest UN proposal sought to address some Russian demands and believed a solution could be found soon.
“On August 28, UN Secretary-General Guterres, in the letter he sent, proposed an intermediary mechanism that would result from the SWIFT transaction, not directly SWIFT as the Russians wanted,” Erdogan continued.
“They said work was under way on the insurance issue too.”
He added Moscow was putting these two demands as “musts” to revive the deal and that Putin had told him he would not take steps on this until “Europe keeps the promises they made me”, according to Turkish media.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive unsuccessful on every front: Russian DM
Kyiv’s counteroffensive has failed to register success on any front, Russia’s defence minister has claimed.
“Ukraine’s armed forces have not achieved their goals on any front,” the defence ministry quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying.
The much-vaunted counteroffensive, which began about three months ago, has seen Kyiv’s troops recapture more than a dozen villages but no major settlements yet.
Progress has been hampered by vast Russian minefields and defensive lines.
Kremlin declines to comment on potential meeting between Putin and Kim
The Kremlin has declined to comment on the United States government’s claim that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia to advance arms negotiations between the two countries.
“We have nothing to say on the subject,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
Washington’s National Security Council warned on Monday that weapons discussions between Moscow and Pyongyang are “actively advancing.”
“We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” the council’s spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
Russian-appointed official injured in apparent assassination attempt
An official in the occupied Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine has been injured after an explosion at his house.
The blast is being described as an assassination attempt by both Ukrainian and Russian sources, but there are conflicting reports on Yuriy Afanasievsky’s condition.
Russian state news agency TASS reported Afanasievsky was “not seriously injured,” but added his son was hospitalized.
“His son is in the hospital, not him. But the terrorist attack, most likely, was directed specifically against Afanasievsky,” officials in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) told TASS on Tuesday.
Ukrainian officials, however, suggested Afanasievsky’s condition was more serious.
“Let’s look at the severity of his injuries,” the Ukrainian head of the Luhansk regional military administration Artem Lysohor wrote on Telegram Tuesday.
“The house of Yuriy Afanasievsky, who headed the ‘state customs committee,’ was blown up in the ‘LPR’.”
Lysohor accused Russia of being behind the assassination attempt, without providing any evidence.
“Another collaborator did not meet the expectations of the Russians,” he added.
It comes as authorities backed by Moscow pushed local elections in four Ukrainian regions that were illegally annexed last year, including Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Russian forces held similar elections last year, which are illegal under international law.
Ukrainian drones destroyed near Moscow
Russian air defenses destroyed Ukrainian drones over Moscow and two regions neighboring the capital on Tuesday morning, according to Russia’s defense ministry.
In a statement on Telegram, the ministry said the drones were thwarted over the regions of Moscow, Kaluga and Tver.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin stated a household facility was damaged as a result of falling debris.
No casualties were reported.
Reports of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory have become an almost daily occurrence in recent weeks as Kyiv ramps up its apparent efforts to wear down Russian domestic support for the war.
US says Kim Jong Un expects to engage with Putin to actively advance arms negotiations
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expects to engage with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Russia to continue actively advancing arms negotiations between the two countries, according to the US government.
“We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson of ongoing arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea.
Watson did not say when and where a potential meeting between Kim and Putin in Russia might take place, but it would follow Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to North Korea in July and comes after US officials last week said the two countries are “actively advancing” their negotiations over another potential arms deal that could see Pyongyang providing weaponry to support Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
The Shoigu visit was made “to try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia,” Watson continued, adding, “We urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia.”
Since that trip another group of Russian officials traveled to Pyongyang for follow-on discussions, NSC strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said last week. Putin and Kim have also have exchanged letters pledging to increase their bilateral cooperation, he added.
“Classic blackmail”: Ukrainian foreign minister criticizes Russia’s grain deal demands
Russia’s conditions to revive the Black Sea grain deal amount to “blackmail,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told national news agency Ukrinform on Monday.
The deal “must be restored,” but not “at the expense of blackmail and fulfilling Russia’s whims,” he said.
Russia withdrew from the initiative in July, nearly a year after it was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to guarantee the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea and help facilitate Russian exports of grain and fertilizer. Its withdrawal has caused spikes in wheat prices and fears about food security worldwide.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart that Moscow will be ready to consider rejoining the deal “as soon as all the agreements on lifting restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented.”
Russia claims it was forced to pull out of the deal and that promised guarantees made about its own agricultural and fertilizer exports had not been upheld.
In his interview with Ukrinform Monday, Kuleba said “there were no legal or political grounds for the Russians to withdraw from the agreement,” adding that if Ukraine “makes concessions now,” Russia will “come back and then once again withdraw a month later to put forward new terms.”
“It’s just classic blackmail,” he added.
Kuleba claimed Russia cannot be trusted, so it is necessary to develop alternative maritime export lanes, which can be accomplished by Ukraine with strengthened security.
“We have already shown that it works,” he said. “We have already shown that there are countries expressing interest in helping us organize these lanes on a stable basis.”
Following his meeting with Putin on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ukraine needs to “soften its approach” to revive the grain deal “in order to be able to take common steps with Russia.”
Kuleba told Ukrinform that Ukraine and Turkey have “trusting relations” and he anticipates that discussions will be held between the Ukrainian and Turkish presidents about the grain deal.
Ukraine needs to “soften its approach” to revive Black Sea grain deal with Russia: Erdogan
Ukraine needs to “soften its approach” to revive the Black Sea grain deal, from which Russia withdrew in July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Monday.
“In order to be able to take common steps with Russia, Ukraine needs to soften its approach. Especially now, grain which will be sent to the least developed poverty-stricken African countries is important,” Erdogan said at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Sochi.
“Putin rightfully does not approve if 44% of the grain goes to European countries,” the Turkish leader added.
Erdogan said Turkey has prepared a new proposal with the United Nations to revive the grain deal, which involves “important improvements.”
“From the Turkish side, I believe we will be able to reach a solution soon which fulfills the expectations (regarding the grain deal),” he added.
The previous grain deal from which Russia pulled out, was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. It lasted about a year and allowed billions of dollars worth of grain and wheat to safely transit out of war-torn Ukraine via the Black Sea.
Putin says Russia is not refusing negotiations over Ukraine conflict
In brief remarks on the conflict in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said Russia is not refusing to negotiate on how to end the war.
“I want to say that Russia has never refused negotiations and now we are not refusing,” Putin stated.
He added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised questions about negotiations on the war during meetings between the two leaders on Monday.
“As we know, through the mediation of the President of Turkey, an agreement was reached, draft documents were agreed upon between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations, but then Ukraine sent them to… to the scrapheap! Nobody is coming back to this. We hear about some new initiatives, but this is not something that was ever discussed with us. Therefore, we do not accept anything new. As for mediation services, we have never refused them. We are also grateful to the President of Turkey for his efforts in this direction,” Putin continued.
The Russian president also stressed the Ukrainian counteroffensive had been a failure.
Ukrainian leaders have acknowledged the counteroffensive’s slow progress, but in recent days, the Ukrainian military said it notched victories in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, penetrating the “first line” of Russian defenses.