According to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia has extended the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea by 60 days - and has reaped objections from the United Nations. "The deal has been extended by 60 days," said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday in Moscow at her weekly press conference. Most recently, the agreement was extended by 120 days - that is valid until Sunday. After that, the new 60-day period begins.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, on the other hand, said in New York that talks about the extension were ongoing. He gave no details as to whether there was a request to amend the agreement. According to the text of the contract, the agreement will be extended by 120 days if neither party objects. A change to the agreement, including a new 60-day period, would have to be confirmed by all parties involved and cannot be announced unilaterally.
The agreement on the Black Sea Grain Initiative was mediated by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 and provides for the release of Ukrainian ports for grain exports, among other things.
After renewed negotiations with the UN, Russia had promised an extension of 60 days, but this was also linked to demands. Moscow complains that Western sanctions are hampering the export of Russian food and fertilizers and is making the extension dependent on simplifications for export transactions, such as bank payments, transport logistics and insurance. In addition, Russia intends to re-use its pipeline for ammonia through Ukraine, which is currently not in operation.
FSB building in Rostov on fire
A fire broke out in an explosion in a building of the Russian domestic secret service FSB in the city of Rostov-on-Don near the border with Ukraine on Thursday. The FSB in Moscow said fuel and lubricants ignited in a workshop, causing an explosion and partial destruction of the building. The FSB did not give any further details. Photos and videos of a large fire and a huge plume of smoke in the sky were shared on social networks. A loud bang was heard. The Civil Protection Ministry extinguished the fire.
Governor Vasily Golubev initially stated that, according to preliminary findings, the fire broke out due to a short circuit in power lines. The flames would have spread to 800 square meters. The fire also caused flammable liquids to explode. Two walls of the building collapsed, Golubev said. He had spoken of an injured person. The fire at the FSB was also widely reported in the Ukrainian media.
The FSB is also responsible for border security in Russia. In the region near Ukraine there have recently been repeated incidents with rockets and drones. According to its own statements, the FSB in Russia repeatedly uncovered acts of sabotage against infrastructure objects in the course of Moscow's war of aggression against Ukraine. According to official information, the task of border guards is also to prevent suspected sabotage groups from entering the region illegally.
Alleged shelling in Belgorod
In the Belgorod region, which is also close to the border, the authorities reported again on Thursday that the Russian air defense system had shot down two missiles. As on the previous day, when there was talk of three rockets fired, residential buildings and this time administrative buildings in the city of Belgorod were again hit and damaged by fallen fragments of rockets. There are no injuries, said Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. He accused the Ukrainian troops of increased activity. In the past four days, 58 buildings and 31 cars have been hit by debris.
Crimean concert in Moscow canceled
The traditional major concert in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on the anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea on March 18 has been canceled according to the media. Instead, the anniversary will be celebrated this Saturday with smaller events in a number of regions, the daily newspaper "Vedomosti" reported on Thursday. Until recently, preparations were being made for the mass event, which Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin traditionally also takes part in. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Participants for the event were sought via social networks. They were lured with free food and performances by musicians considered patriotic. "For reasons beyond our control, the format of celebrations for the reunification of Crimea with Russia has been changed in the city," the organizers said. A more detailed explanation has not yet been given.
Most recently, on February 22, masses of participants were brought to a concert in the Luzhniki Stadium. The concert was seen as a demonstration of Russia's unity shortly before the anniversary of Putin's attack on Ukraine. Putin himself also made an appearance.
Kremlin critic 14 days in arrest
The prominent Russian opposition figure Yevgeny Roisman has been sentenced to 14 days in prison in Yekaterinburg for allegedly spreading extremist symbolism. The judge found Roisman guilty of an administrative offense, the Russian news agency Interfax reported on Thursday. Roisman was arrested by the police this morning.
Roisman is said to have shared a video of the sentencing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on the Russian social network VKontakte (vk.com), which featured the emblem of his Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), which is considered extremist in Russia. Roisman himself denies the allegation. According to his lawyers, the 60-year-old never had an account on the network where the video appeared. Judge Vladimir Ushakov ignored the defense's arguments in his verdict.
Roisman is one of the best-known opposition politicians in Russia. From 2013 to 2018 he was elected mayor of the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals. In the summer of 2022, following criticism of the war of aggression against Ukraine ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, he was banned from accessing the Internet for alleged discrediting of the Russian army.