Crucial infrastructure for Ukraine grain export opens in Istanbul
The headquarters that will coordinate grain exports from Ukraine was unveiled in Turkey on Wednesday, following a landmark agreement to unlock shipments last week.
The first ships carrying much-needed wheat and maize are expected to depart from Black Sea ports within days.
Russia and Ukraine signed a deal last Friday, brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, which was aimed at providing safe corridors for ships exporting Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea that have not been able to set sail since the start of the invasion.
The joint coordination centre (JCC) will oversee departures from the ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.
Ships must circumvent the heavily mined waters and then be inspected in the Turkish capital for weapons, under the terms of the deal.
“The duty of the centre is to provide safe sea transportation of grain and similar food products to be exported from Ukraine,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Wednesday, as he unveiled the headquarters.
Akar said preparations were ongoing for the first ships to leave Ukrainian ports.
Ukrainian, UN and Turkish officials have all expressed hope that the first vessels would depart one of the Black Sea ports in a few days, though they have suggested it could take two weeks for all three ports to become fully operational.
On Saturday, Russian missiles struck the largest and most significant of Ukraine’s ports – in Odesa – throwing the grain deal into jepodary.
Ukraine smashes key Russian supply bridge with US weapons
Ukrainian troops used US-supplied precision rocket launchers to knock out a strategic bridge used by Russia to supply its forces in southern Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region, officials said Wednesday.
Ukraine also claimed to have destroyed an enemy ammunition depot, artillery pieces and other military equipment in the region, killing 51 members of the Russian army.
This cannot be independently verified by Euronews.
The Antonivskyi Bridge over the Dnieper River was hit late Tuesday, according to Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-appointed administration for the Kherson region. The bridge remained standing, but large holes prevented vehicles from crossing it, he said.
After previous Ukrainian attacks damaged the bridge last week, it was closed to trucks, but has remained open for passenger vehicles until the latest strike.
Ukrainian forces used US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to target the bridge, Stremousov said.
The weapons were among the billions of euros in Western military aid that has helped Ukraine fight off the Russians since the start of the invasion.
Moscow warns of retaliation after Russia Today loses fight against EU ban
Russia Today (RT) on Wednesday lost its court battle against an EU ban on the state-controlled media outlet, leading the Kremlin to threaten retaliatory measures against Western media.
The 27 member bloc imposed the ban on RT in March over alleged disinformation, a decision which the Europe’s second-highest court upheld today.
“The Grand Chamber of the General Court dismisses RT France’s application for annulment of acts of the Council, adopted following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, temporarily prohibiting that organisation from broadcasting content,” the Luxembourg-based General Court said.
Russia Today had argued in court that the ban curtailed its freedom of expression. However, the court found that the EU ban did not “infringe the essential content of RT France’s freedom to conduct a business since they are temporary and reversible.”
The Kremlin said the EU court’s decision was “extremely negative” and that Moscow would take similar measures against Western media in response.
In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia Today was unable to work in Europe but he hoped it would find loopholes to resume broadcasting.
“The Court’s confirmation of this general ban with an uncertain term, unfortunately, shows that the judicial power of the European Union cannot or does not want to oppose political power,” Xenia Fedorova, president of RT France, said in a statement.
Under EU sanctions, which apply to RT’s English unit and operations in the UK, Germany, France and Spain, RT content cannot be broadcast or disseminated by EU operators.
Russia ‘one of the last colonial imperial powers’, accuses Macron
France’s president accused Russia on Wednesday of being “one of the last colonial imperial powers”, during a conference in Benin, a former French colony.
By deciding “to invade a neighbouring country to defend its interests there”, “Russia is one of the last colonial imperial powers,” said Emmanuel Macron.
“Russia has launched an offensive against Ukraine, it’s a territorial war that we thought had disappeared from European soil, it’s a war of the beginning of the 20th century, even of the 19th century, he said during a press conference with his Beninese counterpart Patrice Talon in Cotonou.
Benin was a French colony from the late 19th century until 1960.
For the French president, who is currently touring the African continent at the same time as Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, “Russia has started a new type of hybrid world war”.
“It decided that information, energy and food were military instruments placed at the service of a continental imperialist war against Ukraine,” he said.
According to Macron, Russia was spreading disinformation “around the world” and “uses instruments of propaganda”, adding that Moscow was to blame for the current food security crisis.
Lavrov, meanwhile, claimed that Russia was not responsible for the “energy and food crises”, denouncing “a very noisy campaign” around the issue.
Lavrov urges Africans not to support a Western-ruled world
The Russian Foreign Minister on Wednesday called on developing countries, especially in Africa, not to support a world ruled by the West, warning they could be the next to suffer its wrath.
“It’s up to us to decide if we want a world where a West (…) totally subservient to the United States (…) believes that it has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without respecting international law,” Sergei Lavrov said in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
Lavrov made the remarks during address to mostly African diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Ethiopia, while on the last leg of his mini-African tour, in which he has visited Egypt, Congo and Uganda.
During his 20-hour stay in Addis Ababa, Lavrov met with his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen and the country’s deputy prime minister.
“The West created a system based on certain principles – market economy, fair competition, inviolability of private property, presumption of innocence…: all these principles were thrown down the drain when it came to what they thought was necessary to punish Russia,” said Lavrov.
“And I have no doubt that if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same to any other country that (…) annoys them in one way or another,” he added.