Heavy Russian missile attacks were reported in central Ukraine. Bilateral meetings between Putin, Xi and Erdogan are scheduled from Thursday.
Putin plans meetings with Xi in Uzbekistan
Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Uzbekistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. To begin with, an informal dinner is planned at the invitation of Uzbek President Shawkat Mirsiyoyev, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday. Several bilateral meetings with Putin are also planned, including with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The meeting is the first face-to-face encounter between the two leaders since the outbreak of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Chinese leadership has given the Kremlin political backing and has portrayed the US and NATO as the main culprits in the war. However, Beijing is cautiously tackling the conflict, and many Chinese companies are reluctant to do business with Russia because of Western sanctions.
Putin will also meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Moscow has already announced that it will discuss the implementation of the grain agreement. Turkey is a facilitator in the deal that unlocked Ukraine’s seaports after months of a Russian naval blockade. The resumption of Ukrainian grain exports is intended to ease the global food crisis. According to Russian information, however, most of the grain does not go to poor countries, but to Europe. Moscow also complains that the sanctions against the Russian fertilizer and food industry are continuing, at least indirectly.
For Putin, the summit is also important for image reasons. The meeting will be attended by 15 heads of state and government, including India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From the Russian point of view, the pictures from the summit are intended to demonstrate that Russia is not isolated internationally after the invasion of Ukraine. (dpa)
Ursula von der Leyen is expected in Kyiv on Thursday
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In her speech on the state of the Union in front of the European Parliament, von der Leyen said that the question would be how Ukraine would gain access to the EU internal market. At the same time, she promised Ukraine emergency aid of 100 million euros to rebuild schools. Selenski’s wife Olena Selenska is also present in the plenum of the EU Parliament. (rtr)
Zelensky involved in car accident
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was involved in a car accident on his way back from a visit to the Kharkiv region. A passenger vehicle collided with the president’s vehicle in the capital Kyiv early Thursday, Zelensky’s spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov said on Facebook. Zelensky’s medical team provided first aid to the person driving the other car. The person was taken away in the ambulance. Selenski did not suffer any serious injuries. Nykyforow did not say whether Selenski had been injured in any way. The accident is being investigated.
Zelensky’s latest late-night video address was released with a delay. Maybe it had something to do with the car accident.
Zelenski was in the Kharkiv region been where he had visited soldiers in the city of Izyum. The Ukrainian troops had recaptured the Ukrainian city from Russia. (ap)
UN Secretary-General talks to Russian President
After a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has little hope of peace in Ukraine anytime soon. “I feel like we’re still a long way from peace,” Guterres said after Wednesday’s call. “I have no illusions. At the moment, the chances of a peace deal are minimal,” he added. Even a ceasefire is “not in sight”.
Guterres said he spoke to Putin about efforts to overcome “barriers” to Russian food and fertilizer exports. It was about an extension and a possible expansion of exports as part of an agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey.
For months since the Russian attack on Ukraine began in February, all Ukrainian grain exports from its Black Sea ports have been blocked, contributing to a global food crisis. In July, Russia and Ukraine then signed an agreement to resume Ukrainian grain exports. In return, Russian exports should also be made possible.
Since then, Ukraine has been able to ship around three million tons of grain. However, Russia complains that the western sanctions imposed because of the Ukraine war are hampering its own exports. Guterres also said Russia was exporting “much less than is desirable and necessary”.
According to the Kremlin, Putin demanded in the telephone conversation with Guterres that Ukrainian grain should be exported primarily to poor countries. In the phone call, both sides emphasized how important it was to “meet the needs of the people in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America,” the Kremlin said. Last week, Putin accused the EU member states of having secured most of the grain deliveries since the blockade of Ukrainian ports was lifted.
However, according to recent data from the Istanbul Observatory, which was set up to monitor the grain deals signed by Russia and Ukraine in July, just over a third of grain shipped from Ukraine went to European countries. (afp)
US bill designating Russia as a sponsor of terrorism
US senators have introduced a bill to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. The proposal should make it possible to sue Russia in US courts for its actions in Ukraine and tighten sanctions against Moscow, says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. It is not clear if and when the measure would come to a vote. Classification is required by Ukraine and many U.S. lawmakers, but opposed by President Joe Biden’s administration. Moscow has told Washington that diplomatic ties between the two countries could be severed if Russia were put on the list of sponsors of terrorism. (rtr)
Russian missile attack in central Ukraine
According to the authorities, the central Ukrainian industrial city of Kryvyi Rih was hit by Russian cruise missiles on Wednesday. The head of the administration of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentin Resnichenko, said that hydrotechnical systems were badly damaged by the “massive rocket attack”. Unverified videos also showed that the Ingulez River was rising rapidly. The river is dammed in front of the city. The city’s transport infrastructure was also attacked. There was initially no talk of victims. In this case, too, the information provided by the warring parties could not be independently verified.
The reservoir serves the drinking water supply of the city with 625,000 inhabitants. Due to the damage to the pumping station, the water supply had failed in large parts of the city, it said. Despite the high water level on the river, the situation is under control, said Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko. The situation in the parts of the city where there is a risk of flooding is constantly being monitored.
Resnichenko spoke of seven Ch-22 cruise missiles fired from a distance by Russian fighter jets. The transport infrastructure was also attacked. Initially, there was no information about victims. In the presidential office in Kyiv there was talk of eight incoming missiles. Vice President Kyrylo Tymoshenko spoke of an act of terrorism because critical infrastructure had been breached. Kryvyi Rih is the hometown of President Volodymyr Zelensky. (dpa)
Luhansk governor prepares liberation of region
After the reconquest of areas in north-eastern Ukraine as part of a large-scale counter-offensive, the governor of the eastern Donbass region of Luhansk is also hoping for liberation from Russian occupation there. Ukrainian troops are preparing to retake the region, Serhiy Hajdaj told the AP news agency on Wednesday.
Most of the region in Ukraine’s industrial heartland has been under Russian control since July. It borders on the Kharkiv region, where the Ukrainian troops recently made the greatest gains in territory. Hajdaj told the AP Ukrainian guerrilla forces had flown Ukrainian flags in the cities of Swatove and Starobilsk. However, in another city where the Ukrainian flag was raised, Kreminna, the Russians returned on Wednesday, “pulling down the (Ukrainian) flags and demonstratively showing that they are there,” the governor said.
A military leader of the pro-Russian separatists in the region, militia officer Andrei Marochko, told Russian television that the situation was “very difficult”. “In some places, the line of contact has very much converged with the borders of the Luhansk People’s Republic,” he said, referring to the area that the separatists declared an independent state eight years ago. (ap)