Ukraine targets Russian soldiers threatening Europe’s largest nuclear power plant

DIPLOMATIC RIFT DEEPENS

Russia’s invasion, which it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its smaller neighbour, has pushed Moscow-Washington relations to a low point, with Russia warning it may sever ties.

The United States has led Ukraine’s Western allies in supplying it with weapons to defend itself and punitive sanctions against Moscow.

A senior Russian official on Friday said Moscow had told Washington that if the US Senate passed a law singling out Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, diplomatic ties would be badly damaged and even broken off.

On Saturday a senior Russian foreign ministry official warned that any seizure of Russian assets by the United States would completely destroy bilateral relations, TASS reported.

“We warn the Americans of the detrimental consequences of such actions that will permanently damage bilateral relations, which is neither in their nor in our interests,” said Alexander Darchiev, head of the ministry’s North American Department. It was not clear which assets he was referring to.

Darchiev said US influence on Ukraine had increased to the degree that “Americans are increasingly becoming more and more a direct party in the conflict”.

The United States and Europe, wary of being dragged directly into the war, have refused Ukraine’s request to establish a no-fly zone to help it protect its skies from Russian missiles and warplanes.

UKRAINE GRAIN SHIPS

Two more ships carrying grain left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey’s defence ministry said, bringing to 16 the number of vessels to depart under a UN-brokered deal aimed partly at easing a global food crisis.

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said on Saturday that 16 ships carrying 450,000 tonnes of agricultural products had departed from Ukrainian sea ports since early August under the deal, which ensured safe passage for vessels.

The agreement, signed by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN in July amid warnings of possible outbreaks of famine, allowed grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to resume after being stalled for five months due to the war.

Zelenskyy said that in less than two weeks, Ukraine had managed to export the same amount of grain from three ports as it had done by road for all of July.

“This has already made it possible to reduce the severity of the food crisis,” he said on Saturday.

Ukraine hopes to increase its maritime exports to over 3 million tonnes of grain and other farm products per month in near future.

Ukraine and Russia are major grain exporters. The blockage of Ukrainian ports has trapped tens of millions of grain in the country, raising fears of severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.