Fri, 07 Oct 2022

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa on Monday morning, Turkey said, following Ukraine and Russia's signing last month of a landmark deal at restarting grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports. Read about the day's events as they unfolded on our live blog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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05:49am: US accuses Russia of using Ukraine power plant as 'nuclear shield'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called Russia's actions around Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant "the height of irresponsibility," accusing Moscow of using it as a "nuclear shield" in attacks on Ukrainian forces.

Russia in March was accused of firing shells dangerously close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as its forces took it over in the first weeks of the invasion of Ukraine.

Washington is "deeply concerned" that Moscow was now using the plant as a military base and firing on Ukrainian forces from around it, Blinken told reporters after nuclear nonproliferation talks at the United Nations in New York.

"Of course the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant," he said.

Russia's actions went beyond using a "human shield," Blinken said, calling it a "nuclear shield."

The Russian mission to the United Nations in New York strongly rejected Blinken's accusations.

"We repeatedly stated that actions of our armed forces in no way undermine Ukraine's nuclear security or impede routine operation of the NPP (nuclear power plant)," the Russian UN mission said in a statement.

August 2, 03:36am: World Bank surveys 'extreme' food price hikes in poor countries

According to a Food Security Update published by the World Bank on Monday, Lebanon faces the world's worst food inflation, with prices rising 332 percent over the last year. (Lebanon is the destination of the first grain ship to leave Ukraine's Odesa port under a UN-backed deal.)

Zimbabwe and Venezuela have also seen triple-digit increases, with Turkey, Iran, Sri Lanka and Argentina next-worst hit. The World Bank highlights the war in Ukraine as a key factor behind the rising prices and food insecurity, alongside a historic drought in the Horn of Africa.

FRANCE 24's Kate Moody breaks down some of the Bank's key findings:

11:27pm: 'Too soon' to celebrate resumption of grain shipments, Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that it was "too soon" to celebrate, after a shipment of grain left a Ukrainian port under a UN and Turkey-brokered deal.

"At this time, it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts," he said in his nightly video address. "Let's wait and see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed."

8:28pm: US to send $550 million of new weapons to Ukraine

The United States announced Monday a new tranche of weapons for Ukraine's forces fighting Russia, including ammunition for the increasingly important rocket launchers and artillery guns.

The new $550 million package will "include more ammunition for the high mobility advanced rocket systems otherwise known as HIMARS, as well as ammunition" for artillery, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

This brings the total of military assistance committed to Ukraine since President Joe Biden took office to more than $8 billion, he said.

8:23pm: Russia blacklists 39 senior British politicians, business people and journalists

Russia's foreign ministry on Monday announced sanctions against 39 officials, business people and journalists from Britain, barring them from entering Russia for supporting the "demonisation" of Russia and its international isolation.

The list includes opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, former prime minister David Cameron and presenter Piers Morgan.The journalists banned work for media outlets including the Guardian, the BBC, the Sunday Times, the Economist, the Daily Telegraph and Sky News.

"Given London's destructive drive to spin the sanctions flywheel on far-fetched and absurd pretexts, work on expanding the Russian stop-list will continue," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

6:46pm: Setting sail the 'best feeling' for Ukraine grain ship crew

As the first grain ship left Ukraine's ports since the Russian invasion in February, one crew member said Monday that setting sail was the "best feeling" of the year.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni left Odesa bound for Lebanon on Monday with 27,000 tonnes of corn.

"It was a great feeling," junior engineer Abdullah Jendi, from Syria, said. "Everyone on the ship was very happy. I can say that it was the best feeling we have had in 2022."

The ship is expected to pass through the Bosphorus Strait on Tuesday stopping in Istanbul, Turkey, to refuel and for an inspection. It is scheduled to dock in Tripoli, Lebanon, on August 2.

5:38pm: France to donate mobile DNA lab for war crime investigations in Ukraine

President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday France was determined to make sure war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine do not go unpunished, and will donate a mobile DNA lab to Kyiv authorities.

After a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, Macron also welcomed the departure of the first ship transporting grains from Odesa and said Europe will continue to help facilitating Ukrainian grain exports by sea and land.

2:52pm: Ukraine says more than 40 settlements reclaimed in Kherson region

Ukrainian forces have recaptured more than 40 settlements in the key southern region of Kherson, as Kyiv looks to drive back Russian troops in a counter-offensive, the local governor said Monday.

"Today, 46 settlements have already been de-occupied in the Kherson region," Dmytro Butriy, the head of the Ukrainian regional administration, told national TV.

Butriy added that the majority of the regained villages lie in the northern part of the region, while some others are located in its southern part, close to the Black Sea and the heavily bombarded Mykolaiv region.

The governor said that some of the recaptured villages "have been 90 percent destroyed and today are still under constant fire".

Butriy said that the humanitarian situation in the region was "critical" and reiterated the authorities' call to those who still remain in the area "to evacuate to safer regions".

2:09pm: Ukraine receives 4 more US HIMARS rocket systems, says defence minister

Ukraine has received a batch of four more US-made high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), Ukraine's defence minister said on Monday.

"I'm grateful to @POTUS and @SecDef Lloyd Austin III and the (U.S.) people for strengthening of #UAarmy," Oleksii Reznikov, the defence minister, wrote on Twitter.

HIMARS have a longer range and are more precise than Ukraine's Soviet-era artillery, allowing Ukrainian forces to hit Russian targets that were previously unreachable.

1:30pm: Russia says it has 'little ability' to help with Nord Stream 1 repair

There is little Russia can do to help with urgent repairs required to malfunctioning Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline equipment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Russia cut gas supplies via Nord Stream 1, its main gas pipeline to Europe, to just 20 percent of capacity last week, saying that a turbine sent to Canada for maintenance had not yet come back and that other equipment also needed repair. This signalled a deepening of a row in which Moscow has cited turbine problems as its reason for cutting gas supply via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

"There are malfunctions which require urgent repairs and there are certain artificial difficulties which were caused by sanctions," Peskov said. "This situation needs a fix and Russia has a little ability to help here," he added.

12:30pm: UN chief Guterres welcomes first grain ship leaving Odesa

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday welcomed the departure of the first ship carrying grain from Odesa, which was en route to Lebanon, saying he hoped it would be the first of many since a deal was brokered on exports, his spokesperson said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General hopes that this will be the first of many commercial ships moving in accordance with the initiative signed, and that this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts," the UN statement said.

The World Food Programme also planned to purchase, load and ship an initial 30,000 metric tonnes of wheat out of Ukraine on a UN-chartered vessel, the statement added.

12:20pm: EU urges Russia to fully implement grain deal with Ukraine

The European Union on Monday welcomed the departure of a grain shipment from Ukraine as a "first step" towards mitigating the food crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of its neighbour. But EU spokesman Peter Stano said Brussels still expects the "implementation of the whole deal and resumption of Ukrainian exports to the customers around the world".

11:28am: Kremlin says first grain ship to leave Ukraine 'very positive' news

The Kremlin said that news of the first ship carrying grain to leave Ukraine's port of Odesa under a deal brokered by Turkey was "very positive".

"As for the departure of the first ship, this is very positive. A good opportunity to test the effectiveness of the mechanisms that were agreed during talks in Istanbul," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

11:18am: Russia outlines plans to rebuild Ukraine's Mariupol in attempt to gain support in occupied territories

A senior Russian official on Monday outlined plans to rebuild Ukraine's southern port city of Mariupol, which suffered a devastating siege and heavy shelling before being captured by Russian troops. The move comes as part of Moscow's wider efforts to gain support in Ukrainian regions that have come under Russian control since the start of the February invasion.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said in an interview with Russia's RBC TV channel that the first buildings currently under construction will be ready by the autumn. "The first residential buildings will be standing by September. We will already have the first hospitals, will build a centre of the emergencies ministry," he said.

Khusnullin also said there were plans to rebuild the historic centre of Mariupol, renovating all buildings that were not completely destroyed by Russian shelling.

11am: Ukraine grain shipment 'relief for the world', Kyiv says

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday hailed the departure of the first shipment of grain from the port of Odesa since the start of Russia's invasion as a "relief for the world".

"The day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa after months of Russian blockade. Ukraine has always been a reliable partner and will remain one should Russia respect its part of the deal," Kuleba tweeted.

8:45am: First ship carrying Ukrainian grain has left port of Odesa, Turkey says

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa on Monday, the Turkish defence ministry said, under a deal aimed at relieving a global food crisis following Russia's invasion of its neighbour.

"The ship Razoni has left the port of Odesa bound for Tripoli in Lebanon. It is expected in Istanbul on August 2. It will then continue its journey after it has been inspected in Istanbul," the ministry said.

Ukraine said the vessel was carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn. It also underwent an inspection in Istanbul before continuing to Lebanon's Tripoli, a UN-led monitoring centre said on Monday.

The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni is expected to arrive at the inspection in Turkish waters on August 2, the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) said, adding it had requested all parties to inform militaries to ensure its safe passage.

The JCC - which includes United Nations, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials - had verified the Odesa port's readiness, as well as the vessel's capability to depart ahead of the authorisation, it said.

6:09am: First grain ship could leave Ukraine on Monday, Turkey says

The possibility of the first grain-exporting ship leaving Ukraine's ports on Monday is high, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

Speaking in an interview with broadcaster Kanal 7, Ibrahim Kalin said the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul will probably complete the final work on the exporting routes very soon.

"If all (details) are completed by tomorrow, it seems like there is a high possibility that the first ship will leave the port tomorrow ... We will see ships leaving the ports the next day at the latest," Kalin said.

5:57am: Zelensky condemns 'brutal' Russian shelling of Mykolaiv

"Today, one of the most brutal shellings of Mykolaiv and the region over the entire period of the full-scale war took place. Dozens of missiles and rockets," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address.

"I want to thank every resident of Mykolaiv for their indomitability."

Ukrainian agricultural magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky, 74, and his wife Raisa were killed when a missile struck their house, authorities said.

Vadatursky owned major grain exporter Nibulon and was previously decorated with the prestigious "Hero of Ukraine" award.

Zelensky offered condolences and paid tribute to Vadatursky in his Sunday address.

3:21am: Sunday shelling spans from Black Sea to Ukraine's northern border

Besides Mykolaiv, Russian forces shelled the Sumy region's northern border seven times on Sunday, with more than 90 individual strikes, Sumy Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said on his Telegram channel. A farm was damaged and 25 hectares (61.8 acres) of wheatfields were destroyed, he said.

Up to 50 Grad rockets hit residential areas in the southern city of Nikopol on Sunday morning, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. One person was wounded.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Originally published on France24

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