Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych has justified the planned extension of martial law by 90 days into August. The war that Russia started will last until the fall, Arestovych said on Ukrainian television on Wednesday. The Ukrainian population is only being given false hope if martial law is only ever extended by 30 days, as has been the case up to now. Honest communication with society is necessary in war, said the advisor, who primarily speaks out on military issues.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy published draft laws on Wednesday that would extend martial law and mobilization by three months because of the Russian invasion. After the confirmation by the deputies, which is considered certain, the state of war will apply until August 23. (dpa)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has increased pressure on Russia over the blockade of Ukrainian grain in the face of historic numbers of people suffering from hunger around the world. “Russia must allow the safe export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports,” Guterres said at a US-hosted foreign ministers’ meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Russia of using the blockade of grain exports from Ukraine as a weapon of war. “Russia has started a grain war that is fueling a global food crisis,” Baerbock (Greens) said in New York on Wednesday. Moscow does this by not only blockading Ukrainian ports, but also destroying silos, roads, railways and fields.

According to the federal government, Russia is preventing Ukraine from exporting 20 million tons of grain, most of it in the port of Odessa. “Russia is not only waging its brutal war with tanks, missiles and bombs,” Baerbock said. “Russia is waging this war with another terrible and quieter weapon: hunger and deprivation.”

Guterres said it was necessary to bring Ukraine’s extremely important grain producer back to the world market, as well as food and fertilizers produced by Russia and Belarus. The war Russia started threatens to plunge tens of millions of people into food insecurity and trigger a crisis “that could last for years”. Together, Ukraine and Russia produce nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of the world’s sunflower oil, according to Guterres.

According to the United Nations, global hunger has reached a new high: “In just two years, the number of people with severe food insecurity has doubled, from 135 million before the pandemic to 276 million today,” said Guterres. More than half a million people are at risk of starvation – five times more than in 2016. In addition to Covid-19, the climate crisis and finally the Ukraine war have recently aggravated the situation. (dpa)

According to Kiev sources, Russian troops fired on the north-east Ukrainian regions of Sumy and Chernihiv from Russian territory on Wednesday. The Ukrainian border guard reported seven attacks using heavy machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, and tube and rocket artillery. The village of Shostka near the border in the Sumy region was shelled with mortars for more than an hour. But there were no victims.

The reports were initially not independently verifiable. The Russian Ministry of Defense has also reported rocket attacks on northern Ukraine in the past few days. (dpa)

In view of Western sanctions, the Russian government expects production of its important export goods, oil and gas, to fall in 2022. Production of oil and oil condensate could fall by around 9 percent to 475.3 million tons after 524 million tons in 2021. The Russian Ministry of Economy published this forecast in Moscow on Wednesday. Oil exports will remain almost stable at 228.3 million tons after 231.0 million tons in 2021. Last year, however, significantly higher exports were expected for 2022.

The production of gas and gas condensate could decrease to 721 billion cubic meters from 764 billion cubic meters last year, Russian agencies reported according to the data. The ministry forecast exports of 185 billion cubic meters in 2022, up from 206 billion cubic meters the year before. Again, the latest predictions for 2022 were even more optimistic. (dpa)

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov, who lives in exile, spoke out against the war in Ukraine to thunderous applause at the Cannes Film Festival. “No to war,” he cried Wednesday after the screening of his film, Tchaikovsky’s Wife, which opened the Palme d’Or competition. “I am absolutely convinced that culture and the people in the culture industry are able to ensure that this war in Ukraine stops.”

“That end will come, it will come eventually and it will be peace,” he added, hiding behind his sunglasses. Serebrennikov, 52, is known for his daring films and support for the LGBTQ community. His opening film in Cannes tells the story of Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s unhappy marriage to his wife, whom he married to hide his homosexuality.

Serebrennikov was sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence in June 2020 for alleged embezzlement of public funds. After serving half of his sentence, however, he was allowed to leave the country at the beginning of April and now lives in Berlin. The trial against Serebrennikov had been criticized at home and abroad as politically motivated, the director rejected the allegations. (AFP)

Ukrainian reservists say they used an explosive device to attack an armored Russian train in an occupied part of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Territorial Defense announced on Facebook that it detonated directly under a wagon carrying Russian troops. The attack took place in Melitopol in the Zaporizhia region. No information is given on the extent of the damage. A statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense is not available. (Reuters)

According to the Ukrainian army, it has made another gain in territory near the eastern Ukrainian metropolis of Kharkiv. Due to an advance, the village of Dementijivka was liberated north of the megacity, the general staff announced on Facebook on Wednesday. The village is about eight kilometers from the Russian border.

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army has pushed back Russian troops in northern and north-eastern Kharkiv. However, the Russian military is said to be attempting a counterattack near Ternowa, north-east of Kharkiv.

On the border with the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, there was also fighting for the village of Dowhenke, about 25 kilometers from Sloviansk. Heavy fighting continued at Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and at Sievjerodonetsk in the neighboring Luhansk region. The Russian troops would be supported by heavy Luftwaffe bombardments at various sectors. However, they would not have achieved territorial gains. (dpa)