Latest in Ukraine: Russian Attack Hits Izmail Grain Site

Latest developments:

  • Poland boosts troop presence at border with Belarus after it says two helicopters from Belarus violated Polish airspace.
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield spoke to reporters about the prospects of Russia returning to the Black Sea Grain Initiative. “What we have been told is that they are prepared to return to discussions. We haven’t seen any evidence of that yet,” she said.

Russian drone attacks damaged the Danube River port of Izmail in southern Ukraine on Wednesday, sparking a fire and damaging 44,000 tons of grain destined for Africa, China and Israel, Ukrainian officials said.

No one was injured in the attack on Izmail, near the border with Romania, a key inland alternative to Black Sea ports that Russia has blocked from safe passage.

But U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said the strikes against port infrastructure in southern Ukraine in recent days showed Russia’s disregard for Ukrainian civilians.

“Russia has no desire for peace, no thought for civilian safety, and no regard for people around the world who rely on food from Ukraine,” she said in a social media posting. The attacks have all come in the last two weeks after Russia pulled out of the nearly year-old Black Sea Grain Initiative that allowed Ukrainian shipments to safely sail across the Black Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Black Sea grain deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone call on Wednesday, both countries confirmed. Erdogan stressed the importance of restarting the grain shipments, while Putin said he would “return to the grain deal as soon as the West fulfills its obligations.”

The Russian leader has contended that Western sanctions have inhibited Russian shipments of grains and fertilizers.

The Ukrainian air force said it shot down 23 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia from several directions overnight into Wednesday, including some targeting Kyiv.

Meanwhile in Washington, Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said Ukraine’s counteroffensive was moving forward, but “it has and will continue to be a tough fight for them.”

Ryder called the counteroffensive “a marathon and not a sprint.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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