The war in Ukraine has been going on for exactly 150 days – and there is no end in sight. At least an agreement has now been reached in the dispute over grain exports blocked by Russia from the attacked country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is satisfied that there is finally a solution for the millions of tons of grain that could not be shipped abroad from Ukrainian ports. The United Nations had repeatedly warned of hunger crises in the world in recent weeks.
The individual points of the grain deal signed in Istanbul on Friday correspond “totally with the interests of Ukraine,” Zelensky said in his video speech on Saturday night. “Now we can not only resume the work of our Black Sea ports, but also maintain the necessary protection for them.”
Zelenskyy also said that Ukraine can now export a total of 20 million tons of grain from last year’s harvest. Inventories worth around 10 billion US dollars (9.8 billion euros) are stored.
The warring parties had previously agreed on a major agreement for the first time almost five months after the Russian attack on Ukraine: Grain exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea should be possible again after a blockade by Russia. Under UN leadership, representatives of the countries, together with Turkey, are to stake out a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea and monitor it from a control center in Istanbul.
According to the US government, it is considering a possible delivery of American fighter jets to Ukraine. National Security Council communications director John Kirby stressed that “these are exploratory considerations that cannot be implemented in the near future.” The Pentagon’s preliminary tests are not about machines from the former Soviet Union, but about those of American design.
In a telephone switchboard with reporters, he pointed out that the operation of modern combat aircraft is “a difficult task”.
Factors such as crew training and maintenance and the supply of spare parts would also have to be taken into account.
Kirby also announced additional US arms sales to Ukraine worth around $270 million. This includes four Himars multiple rocket launchers, the delivery of which the US government had already announced.
According to information from Kyiv, more than 1,000 Russian soldiers have been surrounded by Ukrainian forces in the occupied southern Ukrainian region of Cherson. Not far from the Vysokopillya settlement, the Russians got into a “tactical encirclement,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych. This could not be verified independently. Vysokopillya was also not mentioned in the report of the Ukrainian General Staff.
The Ukrainian army recently launched several counter-offensives in the Cherson region, which Russian soldiers largely took control of after the war began in February.
The US newspaper “Wall Street Journal” meanwhile, citing statements by Zelenskyj, wrote that the Ukrainian army is now recording significantly lower losses than a few weeks ago. Selenskyj told the newspaper in an interview that around 30 Ukrainian soldiers are currently being killed every day – in May and June it was between 100 and 200 a day.
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch accuses Russia’s armed forces of torturing prisoners of war and civilians in Ukraine. In the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, interviews with dozens of people revealed 42 cases in which Russian occupation forces either disappeared or otherwise arbitrarily detained civilians. Some had had no contact with the outside world, and many had been tortured. Two of the three prisoners of war affected had died.
This will be important on Saturday: Despite the remarkable agreement on the grain dispute, the fighting in war-torn Ukraine continues. Attacks continue, especially in the east and south of the country.