Russian invasion: War against Ukraine: That's the situation

Russia has agreed to extend the agreement on continued exports of Ukrainian grain through three Black Sea ports - but only for another 60 days.

Russian invasion: War against Ukraine: That's the situation

Russia has agreed to extend the agreement on continued exports of Ukrainian grain through three Black Sea ports - but only for another 60 days. This emerges from a statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, which was published yesterday evening on the website of the Russian Embassy in Geneva.

There, representatives of Russia had negotiated with the United Nations (UN). Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address yesterday that his government was looking at ways to support agriculture in the second year of the war. Before the war, Ukraine was one of the most important grain suppliers in the world.

Russia: Bank payments must be facilitated

The grain agreement of July 2022 also included a promise by the UN to work towards facilitating Russian exports, especially of fertilizers. Because of Western sanctions, however, this remains difficult. According to Verchinin, Moscow is making the approval of a further extension dependent on progress in these export deals.

Among other things, bank payments, transport logistics and insurance would have to be made easier. Moscow is also insisting on the reopening of Russia's ammonia pipeline, which runs through Ukraine. It has not been in operation since the Russian attack on the neighboring country in February 2022.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative Agreement, mediated by the UN and Turkey, was initially valid for 120 days and was extended once by 120 days. It would have expired at the weekend. The initiative brought a good 23 million tons of grain onto the world market and also benefited the poorest countries. Russia initially blocked grain exports via the Ukrainian Black Sea ports in February 2022, but the agreement was later reached.

Selenskyj praises the heroic efforts of farmers

Zelenskyi said that this is the second wartime sowing. "Over the past year, thanks to the heroic efforts of our farmers and all workers in the agricultural sector, it has been possible to maintain agricultural production and Ukraine's global role as a guarantor of food security."

According to Zelenskyi, Ukrainian agriculture also suffers from another war-related problem. "To date, more than 170,000 square kilometers of our territory are threatened by enemy mines and unexploded ordnance," said Zelenskyy. "A large part of this area is our farmers' land."

At its meeting yesterday, the Ukrainian government discussed possible measures to speed up demining, Zelensky said. Among other things, cooperation with foreign partners is to be intensified. Germany is already involved in mine clearance programs in Ukraine with financial support and also militarily by supplying armored mine clearance vehicles.

Kiev: Battle for Bakhmut also in social media

The onslaught of Russian troops on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been going on for weeks, is accompanied by a struggle for sovereignty over the interpretation of what happened in the battle. According to information from Kiev, this has long since been carried out on social media: The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communication announced yesterday that Russia was using anonymous channels to distribute ads on Facebook about alleged successes by Russian troops.

Among other things, it is claimed that the battle for Bakhmut is "lost from the Ukrainian point of view" and "the West does not believe in Ukraine". It is also rumored that the United States is reducing its arms deliveries because "Ukrainian authorities were caught stealing."

"The occupiers want to undermine the trust of Ukrainian society in the government by claiming that the battle for Bakhmut is lost and that our allies have left us to our own devices," the communications authority wrote. After all, exactly the opposite is the case. However, during the war, the accounts of both the Russian and the Ukrainian side often cannot be independently verified.

Social media users in Ukraine have been advised by the agency on ways to identify such false claims. "Fake news is spread via newly created pages that have no description or content and usually have neutral names," it says, among other things. The authority attached several examples of such false reports to the warning.

What is important today

Russian troops continue to charge against Ukrainian defenses in Bakhmut. The General Staff in Kiev yesterday reported heavy fighting in some suburbs. The front lines remained unchanged.