Ships covered by the Black Sea grain deal wait to pass through the Bosporus Strait, October 31, 2022 (Reuters)
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1844 GMT:
Russian shelling has killed four civilians and wounded two in the town of Zelenivka in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said, “Russians have killed a child in Kherson Oblast. The father carried her to the hospital in his arms.”
The victims were near a store that was damaged.
At least 468 Ukrainian children have been killed and 947 injured as a result of the Russian invasion, Prosecutor General’s Office said on 9 April.
UPDATE 1743 GMT:
As in November and March, Russia has backed away from its threat to renew the blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
In a speech to officials of his ruling AK Party, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the July 2022 deal ensuring shipments of Ukraine grain has been extended for another two months.
Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov responded, “We welcome the continuation of the Initiative, but emphasize that it must work effectively.”
He explained that Russia must not be allowed to sabotage the agreement and must stop using food “as a weapon and blackmail”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said:
The continuation is good news for the world.
Looking ahead, we hope that exports of food and fertilizers, including ammonia, from the Russian Federation and Ukraine will be able to reach global supply chains safely and predictably.
UPDATE 1347 GMT:
The “jet coalition” to assist Ukraine, led by the UK and Netherlands, is defining its goal of obtaining the US delivery of F-16 fighter jets.
UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in Berlin on Wednesday, “What we can obviously contribute is training and support, again within limits, because we don’t have F-16 pilots.”
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, “We cannot play an active role in such an alliance, in such a coalition, because we have neither the training capacities, the competencies or the planes.”
In Warsaw, President Andrzej Duda said that Poland, which has transferred Soviet-made MiG-29s to Ukraine, cannot provide F-16s.
We are ready to support the training of Ukrainian pilots….But the number of F-16s we have does not allow us today to talk about transferring any part of them to Ukraine.
UPDATE 0743 GMT:
The Hungarian Government says it will not approve the disbursement of the European Union’s next tranche of military support for Ukraine.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is close to Vladimir Putin, has periodically blocked EU assistance to Kyiv and sanctions on Russia.
The EU’s military aid is being provided under the European Peace Facility, established in 2020 to build capacity to prevent conflicts, promote peace, and bolster international security. The bloc has allocated about €3.6 billion ($3.9 billion) during the Russian invasion.
A Hungarian Government spokesperson said Budapest believes the use of the EPF for Ukraine does not allow for sufficient funding to promotes EU interests in areas such as the Balkans or North Africa.
UPDATE 0734 GMT:
“Two US officials” say that an American-made Patriot missile defense system likely suffered some damage in Russia’s “extremely dense and complex” strikes on Kyiv early Tuesday.
However, the Patriot did not appear to have been destroyed.
A US official said discussions are already underway with Kyiv about the best way to repair the damaged system, and at this point the Patriot will not have to be removed from Ukraine.
Ukraine Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat commented:
Do not worry about the fate of the Patriot….
Destroying the system with some kind of Kinzhal, it’s impossible. Everything that [Russian officials] say there, it can remain in their propaganda archive.
The Patriots were recently provided to Ukraine by the US, Germany, and the Netherlands to bolster air defenses against Russia’s wave of missile and drone strikes.
They have already been vital in providing Ukrainian capability to down Russia’s hypersonic Kh-47 Khinzal missiles. Last week, air defenses downed a Khinzal for the first times, and Ukrainian officials said all six Khinzals were among 18 Russian missiles intercepted early Tuesday.
UPDATE 0724 GMT:
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte have pledged to build an “international coalition” to provide fighter jets to Ukraine.
In his nightly address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — who said after his four-nation European tour last weekend that he is hopeful of “very important” decisions — hailed “a good start to the coalition”.
Poland and Slovakia have delivered Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to Kyiv. The US is still holding out against Zelenskiy’s long-standing requesting for American-made F-16s.
Sunak said on Monday that the UK is preparing to open a flight school to train Ukrainian pilots. French President Emmanuel Macron also offered to training but ruled out sending any warplanes.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia is again threatening to end the Black Sea grain deal and renew its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
With the July 2022 agreement expiring on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding our part of the deal….Now we have to make a decision.”
The last ship covered by March’s two-month extension is leaving port today.
The deal was brokered by the UN and Turkey after Russia had cut off all Ukrainian Black Sea exports of grain and foodstuffs from the February 2022 invasion through July. Three ports were reopened.
However, Russia had continued to obstruct the passage of ships, holding up inspections. In November 2022 and then in March, Moscow threatened to reimpose the blockade — demanding the lifting of sanctions imposed over its invasion — before relenting.