The EU’s foreign policy chief has written to G20 ministers urging them to help Brussels persuade Vladimir Putin to reopen the main export route for Ukraine grain to countries in Africa and the Middle East. In a letter seen by the Guardian, Josep Borrell warned that Russia’s decision to walk out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) last month was risking the lives of children and others in war-torn countries and conflict zones. He urged the international community to speak on the issue “with a clear and unified voice,” adding: “We owe it to the people most in need.”
African leaders involved in peace talks over Ukraine have called for the unlocking of Russian grain and fertiliser exports to revive the Black Sea grain deal, South Africa said on Thursday. The group also called for the United Nations to take action to release 200,000 tons of Russian fertiliser blocked in European Union seaports, said Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ukraine and the United States started talks on Thursday aimed at providing security guarantees for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff said, a follow-up to pledges by G7 countries at last month’s Nato summit. Ukraine was told that the G7 would draw up and honour security guarantees and help bolster its military in light of Russia’s 17-month-old invasion of Ukraine.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security council, told national television on Wednesday that Russian forces had ample time to prepare defences and lay extensive minefields during months of occupation. “The number of mines on the territory that our troops have retaken is utterly mad. On average, there are three, four, five mines per square metre,” he said. Danilov restated assertions by Zelenskiy that the advances, while slower than hoped, could not be rushed as human lives were at stake. “No one can set deadlines for us, except ourselves … there is no fixed schedule,” he said.
The EU on Thursday also banned drone sales to Belarus and added prominent state TV presenters to its sanctions list over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Minsk’s crackdown on opposition.
Polish and Lithuanian leaders held an urgent meeting on Thursday in a strategically sensitive area where their Nato nations border Belarus and the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, warning that they are bracing for provocations from Moscow and Minsk in the area. Wagner mercenaries are being moved close to Nato’s eastern flank to destabilise the military alliance, Poland’s prime minister said.
Russia will cut oil exports by 300,000 barrels a day in September, Reuters reported deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday. Russia has already pledged to reduce its oil output by about 500,000 barrels a day, or 5% of its oil production, from March until year-end.
Romania said on Thursday it will clear customs for up to 30 ships waiting to enter the country from Ukrainian ports on the River Danube over the next two days, a sign that trade has not halted despite a Russian attack on Ukraine’s main river port.
Ukraine’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Thursday that it detained an armed forces official accused of helping draft-age men flee the country in exchange for a cash payment, according to AFP. Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that the official, who worked in the Kyiv city administration and headed a department in the army, had issued false documents declaring men unfit for military service.
Russia said on Thursday that the BRICS group of countries would be strengthened by adding new members, in its most explicit endorsement yet of the idea of expansion, Reuters reports. The BRICS group of emerging economies currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Moscow sees the group as an increasingly important and influential counterweight in global affairs to the US-led west.
Three civilians and four emergency service workers were injured in a Russian strike on Kherson, according to Ukraine’s state broadcaster. Serhiy Kruk, the head of Ukraine’s state emergency service, posted to social media images of bloodied and injured emergency workers and damaged emergency equipment as a result of what Ukraine claims has been a “double tap” attack near a church.
Russia claimed to have downed six drones in the Kaluga region overnight on Thursday, followed by another in the morning. “There are no consequences for people and infrastructure,” regional governor Vladislav Shapsha said. Kaluga region is to the south-west of Moscow region, and the north-east of Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine.