Crimean Bridge badly damaged after ‘multiple blasts’ in early hours
Russia is imposing restrictions on British diplomats, demanding they give five days’ notice before travelling further than 75 miles in a retaliation against “hostile actions”.
Moscow summoned senior diplomat Tom Dodd to its foreign ministry to tell him of the move on Thursday.
He was also given a dressing down for Britain’s support of what the Kremlin deems Ukraine’s “terrorist actions” and for allegedly obstructing Russian diplomacy in the UK.
British diplomats, apart from the ambassador and three other top officials, will have to give at least five days’ notice of travel outside the 75-mile “free movement zone”.
The move came after MI6 chief Sir Richard Moore urged Russians angry at president Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine to spy for Britain.
He told them “our door is always open” and “we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end”
Elswhere, China’s consulate building in Odesa has been damaged in a Russian missile and drone attack, a Ukrainian official said.
Regional governor Oleh Kiper posted a photograph showing the building with broken windows.
Russia restricts movements of British diplomats in response to ‘hostile actions’
Russia said on Thursday it was imposing restrictions on British diplomats, requiring them to give five days’ notice of any plans to travel beyond a 120-km (75-mile) radius, due to what it called London’s “hostile actions”.
Britain’s chargé d’affaires in Russia was summoned to the foreign ministry in Moscow to be scolded for what Moscow said was support for the “terrorist actions” of Ukraine and for obstruction of Russian diplomacy in Britain.
“The British side was also informed of the decision to introduce a notification procedure for the movement of employees of British diplomatic missions on the territory of our country as a response to London’s hostile actions,” the ministry said.
Britain is one of the loudest cheerleaders for concerted international opposition to what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, and one of the leading Western suppliers of weaponry to help Ukraine defend itself.
British diplomats, with the exception of the ambassador and three other senior diplomats, will be required to send notification of any plans to travel beyond the 120-km (75-mile) “free movement zone” at least five working days ahead.
“Such a document should contain information about the timing, purpose, type of trip, planned business contacts, accompanying persons, type of transport, places of visit and accommodation, as well as the route of the trip,” the ministry said.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 14:35
Kyiv condemns ‘unfriendly’ Polish decision to extend Ukrainian grain ban
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday condemned a decision by Poland to extend a ban on Ukrainian grain exports to the European Union as an “unfriendly and populist move”.
“During this critical time, Poland intends to continue blocking the export of UA (Ukrainian) grain to the EU. This is an unfriendly and populist move that will severely impact global food security and Ukraine‘s economy,” he wrote on Twitter.
Five central European countries want a European Union ban on grain imports from Ukraine to be extended at least until the end of the year. The ban is set to expire on Sept. 15.
Poland will not lift the ban on Sept. 15 even if the EU does not agree on its extension, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday.
Shmyhal urged Ukraine‘s partners and the executive European Commission to ensure the unimpeded export of all Ukrainian agriculture products to the EU.
“This is an act of solidarity not only with Ukraine but with the world, which relies on our grain,” he said.
Maintaining the exports is important for Ukraine, especially after Russia quit a deal allowing safe shipments of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea.
Agricultural exports are crucial for Ukraine‘s economy, making up about 12% of gross domestic product before Russia‘s invasion in February 2022 and about 60% of all exports.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 14:30
EU ministers discuss 20 bln euro plan for Ukraine military aid
European Union foreign ministers met on Thursday to discuss their support for Ukraine, including a proposal to spend up to 20 billion euros ($22.4 billion) on weapons, ammunition and other military aid over four years.
The proposal, by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, is part of an effort to put European support for Kyiv on a longer-term footing, after more than a year of scrambling to respond to Ukraine‘s immediate needs following Russia‘s invasion.
The move would also be part of an international drive to give Ukraine long-term security assurances, as announced by members of the G7 bloc of wealthy nations on the sidelines of last week’s NATO military alliance summit in Vilnius.
“We’ll discuss how to continue supporting Ukraine in the long run,” Borrell said on arrival at the meeting in Brussels.
“I presented a plan in order to ensure financial support for Ukraine in the next years, which will amount to quite an important amount of money. I hope the ministers will support it,” he told reporters.
Borrell declined to provide figures before the meeting. But diplomats and officials said his proposal – first reported by Politico – is to add up to 5 billion euros a year for Ukraine into an EU-run fund named the European Peace Facility (EPF).
The Peace Facility has already allocated more than 5 billion euros in support for Ukraine since February last year.
The proposed extra funding would cover 2024 to 2027.
The Peace Facility is used to reimburse EU countries for at least part of the cost of weapons, ammunition and other military aid that they give to nations outside the bloc.
Borrell raised the prospect of a new cash pot for Kyiv last month and said it could be called the Ukraine Defence Fund.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 14:00
White House says Russia is preparing for attacks on civilian ships in Black Sea
Days after Russia suspended participation in a wartime deal that allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries around the world, the White House on Wednesday warned that the Russian military is preparing for possible attacks on civilian shipping vessels in the Black Sea.
Since leaving the Black Sea Grain Deal this week, Russia has already struck Ukraine’s grain export ports in Odesa with missile and drone attacks. Some 60,000 tons of grain were destroyed in the attacks.
“Our information indicates that Russia laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports,” White House National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said in a statement. “We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 13:40
The Foreign Office has announced sanctions against 13 individuals and businesses linked to the actions of the Wagner Group in Mali, Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Three designations are targeted at the mercenary group’s top officials in Mali and Central African Republic, including Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov, the so-called ‘right-hand man’ of Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The UK Government said Mr Pikalov had been responsible for the torture and targeted killings of civilians.
Wagner leader Mr Prigozhin, who led a mutiny against Moscow last month, has already been sanctioned by Britain, along with several of his key commanders, for their part in Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.
Andrew Mitchell, minister for development and Africa, said: “The Wagner Group is committing atrocities in Ukraine, as well as acting with impunity in countries like Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan. Wherever Wagner operates, it has a catastrophic effect on communities, worsens existing conflicts and damages the reputations of countries that host them.
“These sanctions expose despicable individuals who have commissioned violations of international humanitarian law, holding them to account for the severe harm they are inflicting on innocent civilians for financial gain.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 13:17
In a refugee camp in Kenya, food shortages left kids hungry even before Russia ended grain deal
Abdikadir Omar was trapped in an extremist-controlled town in Somalia for years until May, when he slipped out to make a 12-day journey with his wife and seven children to neighboring Kenya in search of food and safety.
To his surprise, “I found peace but no food,” the 30-year-old told The Associated Press. He stood near the withered maize he tried to plant around his family’s makeshift shelter of branches and plastic sheeting outside one of the world’s largest refugee camps.
As global food insecurity suffers another shock with Russia’s termination of a deal to keep grain flowing from Ukraine, the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled climate change and insecurity offer a stark example of what happens when aid runs low.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 13:00
At least 21 injured in third night of Russian air attacks
A third night of Russian air attacks targeted Ukraine‘s southern cities, including the port city of Odesa, where at least two people were killed, Ukrainian officials have said.
Moscow vowed “retribution” earlier this week for an attack that damaged a crucial bridge between Russia and the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Russian officials blamed that strike on Ukraine.
Odesa governor Oleh Kiper said Ukrainian air defences destroyed all of the 12 Iranian-made Shahed drones and two Kalibr missiles that targeted Odesa.
But he said air defence systems were unable to shoot down some incoming missiles, in particular the X-22 and Onyx types.
The two people who died in Odesa were a 21-year-old security guard and another person who was found dead under rubble during a search and rescue operation, Mr Kiper said.
In Mykolaiv, another southern city close to the Black Sea, at least 19 people were injured overnight, the region’s governor Vitalii Kim said in a statement on Telegram.
Russian strikes partially destroyed a three-storey building and caused a fire that burned for hours.
Two people were admitted to hospital, including a child, according to the regional governor.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 12:45
Ukraine urges restoration of Black Sea grain initiative
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday called for the restoration of the Black Sea grain initiative to meet the challenge of global food insecurity.
Kuleba is visiting Islamabad on a two-day trip.
His counterpart in Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari endorsed his comments, saying he planned to take the issue up with the secretary general of the United Nations.
The Black Sea grain deal expired on Monday after Russia quit it.
“We had to find the way to export our grain to the global market,” said Kuleba, adding, “land corridors cannot export the full amount of cereals available for export, this is the issue, which means prices will go up because of shortages of delivery.”
This is why it is so important to make everything possible to restore the Black Sea grain initiative, he said.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 12:25
Chinese consular building damaged in Russian attack on Ukraine’s Odesa
A building at the Chinese consulate in Odesa was damaged in a Russian missile and drone attack on the southern Ukrainian port city, regional governor Oleh Kiper said on Thursday.
The damage appeared to be minor. Kiper posted a photograph online showing the building with broken windows.
Russia, which is an ally of China, attacked the port cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv overnight for the third successive night.
“The aggressor is deliberately hitting the port infrastructure – administrative and residential buildings nearby were damaged, also the consulate of the People’s Republic of China. It shows the enemy does not pay attention to anything,” Kiper said on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his daily late-night video address on Wednesday that 60,000 tons of agricultural products destroyed in a Russian air strike on Odesa port had been intended for shipment to China.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 12:01
Putin extends export restrictions until end of 2025
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday extended a March 2022 decree imposing restrictions on the export of manufactured goods and raw materials from Russia until Dec. 31 2025, according to the text of a decree published on a Russian government website.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain20 July 2023 11:51