| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

Russia agrees to resume grain export deal

Russia had agreed to resume the deal to allow the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea as of midday on Wednesday, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan said that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had spoken to his Turkish counterpart and told him that the grain corridor had the go-ahead from Moscow to continue.
“After the call we held yesterday with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, Russian Defence Minister Shoigu called our National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and expressed that the grain transports will continue as agreed before as of 12 p.m. [0900 GMT] today,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president added that exports to African nations would be prioritized, saying that Russia had been concerned most of the exported grain was ending up in richer countries.
Moscow also confirmed its U-turn decision on suspending its involvement in the grain exports deal.
“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at the moment appear sufficient, and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” its Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Russia suspended its role in a UN-brokered accord over the weekend that allowed the safe export of grains from Ukraine. It made the decision after an attack on its Black Sea fleet.
The UN said on Monday, however, that grain had continued to leave Ukrainian ports despite the Russian suspension of the deal.
The Ukrainian capital was targeted by more drone attacks overnight, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office said on Wednesday.
Andriy Yermak wrote on his Telegram channel that 12 of the 13 drones that were launched toward Kyiv were shot down.
He also said that the drones were Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones, which Ukraine says have been used to attack the country’s infrastructure.
Iran and Russia have both previously denied the use of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine.
Yermak also said that Kyiv was in a dialogue to procure modern air defense systems.
Kyiv mayor plans 1,000 public ‘heating points’ amid energy cuts
One day after restoring water and power supplies in Kyiv following a series of Russian missile attacks on infrastructure, the capital’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said that the city was setting up around 1,000 “heating points” in case water and power are once again cut.
Klitschko wrote on Telegram that the heating points were being considered for the worst-case scenario where the city may lose all supplies of electricity, water and heating.
He added that the city had stocked up on generators and water so that people would be able to go to these public locations to warm up, charge their phones and drink some tea.
Russian advances slower than planned, UK intelligence says
The UK Ministry of Defence daily intelligence update reported that the advances being made by Russian forces were around 100 to 200 meters (328 to 656 feet) per day, citing the head of the Russian Wagner Group private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
However, the update also points out that Russian military doctrine expects its forces to “advance 30km or more per day in most conditions.”
The update also highlighted that Ukrainian forces “achieved advances of over 20km per day” in September.
Zelenskyy calls for protection of grain export routes
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his late evening address on Tuesday to thank the UN and Turkey for maintaining the Black Sea export route for Ukrainian grain following previousthreats from Russia that it can no longer guarantee the safety of the vessels.
Zelenskyy also called on the global community to ensure that Ukraine can continue to export vital grain.
“The grain corridor needs reliable and long-term protection,” he said. “Russia should clearly know that it will receive a tough response from the world to any steps that disrupt our food exports. This is literally a matter of life for tens of millions of people.”
UN Security Council set to vote on Russian ‘dirty bomb’ claims
The UN Security Council is set to meet on Wednesday to discuss and vote on claims by the Kremlin that Ukraine is violating the convention prohibiting the use of biological weapons.
The Russian claims that Ukraine is developing biological weapons have been roundly condemned as unfounded and a possible precursor to a Russian false flag attack.
The council will vote on whether to set up an independent commission to look into the claims, but it is unlikely to succeed with the US, UK and France all having veto powers.
The claims revolve around the existence of US-funded labs in Ukraine that have been researching how to reduce the likelihood of deadly outbreaks, including manmade ones.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the meeting “a colossal waste of time,” calling the allegations “pure fabrications brought forth without a shred of evidence.”

  • DW