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Russia-Ukraine war live: Russian strikes cause fire at grain store in Odesa after drones shot down over Kyiv | Russia

Russia attacks Ukraine’s Danube port of Izmail

Russia has attacked Ukraine’s grain port of Izmail, an inland port across the Danube River from Romania. Ukraine’s defence ministry said a grain silo was damaged. There were no reports of casualties, Odesa’s region governor, Oleh Kiper, wrote in a post on Telegram.

Kiper posted several photos showing firefighting crews trying to put out a fire in a high-rise building next to a river.

A handout photo made available by the head of the Odesa regional administration Oleh Kiper shows Ukrainian rescuers work at the site of a Russian drone strike at a port’s infrastructure object in Odesa region. Photograph: Odesa Regional Administration/EPA

An industrial source also confirmed to Reuters that Izmail was the main target of the attack, describing the level of damage as “serious”.

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office released pictures showing a war crimes investigator outside a ruined building, and at least two damaged silos with wheat tumbling out.

The port, across the river from Nato-member Romania, has served as the main alternative route out of Ukraine for grain exports since Russia reimposed its de facto blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in mid-July.

A general view of damaged property, following a Russian drone attack at a location given as Odesa region.
A general view of damaged property, following a Russian drone attack at a location given as Odesa region. Photograph: Oleh Kiper/ODESA REGIONAL STATE ADMINISTRATION/Reuters

Russia has now relentlessly attacked Ukrainian agricultural and port infrastructure for more than two weeks.

“The enemy … is trying to destroy Ukrainian grain, attacking industrial and port infrastructure. Unfortunately, there are hits, unfortunately the silo was damaged, and fires broke out at the site,” Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Ukrainian volunteer army south, part of Ukraine’s armed forces, said in a video statement.

“Russia is trying to cut Ukraine out of the future grain agreement and, most importantly, to strategically displace our country from the global food market,” he said.

Ukraine’s Danube River ports accounted for around a quarter of grain exports before Russia pulled out of the Black Sea deal and have since become main route out.

Key events

Here’s the full story on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urging Vladimir Putin to reopen grain deal talks from my colleague Daniel Boffey.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has urged Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to reopen talks on the failed deal he brokered last summer to safeguard Ukrainian grain exports to the world after Russia’s latest night strikes destroyed ports and supplies in the Odesa region.

Fires raged at the sites of important infrastructure in the southern area on Wednesday morning while Ukraine’s defence ministry said a grain silo in Izmail, an inland port across the Danube River from Romania, had been badly damaged.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the strikes on Ukraine’s means to export grain was an attack on all. “The world must respond,” Ukraine’s president said. “When civilian ports are targeted, when terrorists deliberately destroy even [grain] elevators, this is a threat to everyone on all continents. Russia can and should be stopped.”

After the drone strikes, Erdoğan, in a phone call to the Kremlin, invited Russia’s president to engage in fresh talks over the agreement, with a spokesperson saying the Turkish leader had “expressed the importance of refraining from steps that could escalate tensions during the Russia-Ukraine war, emphasising the significance of the Black Sea initiative, which he described as a bridge of peace”.

Poland has adopted an amended version of a panel to probe “Russian influence”, after an avalanche of EU and US criticism of the move, widely seen as targeting the opposition.

Poland – a neighbour and ally of Ukraine, which is battling Russia’s invasion – in late May set up a committee with the stated goal of investigating citizens who may have succumbed to Russian influence, AFP reports. Under the law, those found guilty could have found themselves banned for 10 years from public positions relating to public finances and classified information.

Critics have argued the measure, introduced just months before parliamentary elections, would be used to target opposition leader Donald Tusk. His party has even gone so far as to dub it the “Lex Tusk”, or Tusk Law, due to its suspected aim.

Under the revised legislation, a person whom the committee finds to be under Russian influence would not be banned from holding public positions. Instead, the panel will issue a statement that the person has succumbed to Russian influence and cannot be guaranteed to work properly in the public interest.

The European Commission has green-lighted £631bn in state support for businesses affected by the Ukraine war, and the green transition, since March 2022, the since after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Financial Times reports that German firms have received almost half of the funds. However, there is unease in smaller countries amid suggestions that the rules favour bigger economies.

“We are unhappy about it because we see that the conditions for doing business are widening again between member states,” one senior diplomat told the FT. “It is due to exceptional circumstances, but that excuse is beginning to be a bit too easy to bring to the table.” Another diplomat said: “They make up all these excuses to keep relaxing rules.”

An eastern European member state diplomat said: “[The single market] was designed by the Dutch, the Germans, the French and others and it doesn’t benefit those on the fringes.”

A spokesperson for the commission said: “EU state aid rules, which have been recently subject to a modernisation process, make sure that aid granted by a member state or through state resources does not distort competition and trade within the EU by favouring certain companies or the production of certain goods, ensuring a level playing field in the single market.”

Russia’s defence ministry has said restrictions on movement have been imposed on ships and aircraft in the Kerch Strait, the Tass news agency reported.

It did not immediately give a reason for the move. The Kerch Strait connects the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, to the east of the Crimean peninsula.

Local militia groups in two Russian regions bordering Ukraine have today been provided with weapons to defend their territory from Ukrainian attacks, according to local officials.

The militias were created in the two Russian regions last December to assist the armed forces, National Guard and police, AFP reports.

The governor of Russia’s western Kursk region said his territorial militia had received its first batch of weapons, while state media reported that units in Belgorod region had received weapons. Both regions have reported repeated drone strikes and shelling from Ukraine’s armed forces.

Kursk governor, Roman Starovoit, said:

The Kursk region is experiencing terrorist attacks from Ukraine on an almost daily basis. The first batch [of weapons] has already arrived at the base. In the near future we will increase the number of weapons up to 300 units.

As Russia presses ahead with its full-scale military campaign in Ukraine, Moscow’s ability to protect its own border from external threats has come into doubt. In May and June, pro-Ukrainian militants calling themselves Russian partisans crossed the border into Russia’s Belgorod region, clashing with security forces.

The UK Foreign Office has announced the appointment of Nigel Casey as the new ambassador to Russia, at a time of perhaps unprecedented tensions between Moscow and London since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Casey succeeds Deborah Bronnert, who held the post since 2020, and will take up the role in November, AFP reports. Casey, 54, is a career diplomat who joined the Foreign Office in 1991 and most recently served as the prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan.

He has also served as Britain’s high commissioner in South Africa and as ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Between 2003 and 2006 Casey was posted to Moscow.

In response to London “hindering the normal operation of Russian foreign missions in the UK”, Moscow last month announced travel restrictions for British diplomats working in Russia. The diplomats will mostly need to notify authorities in advance about their movements around the country.

Britain’s leading arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, has raised its annual profit forecast, the Financial Times reported.

It said war in Ukraine had helped push orders to new records, though it only cited a recent £280m gift from the UK to Ukraine to produce key munitions. BAE is also planning to set up a base in Ukraine to produce and repair weapons and vehicles.

The company said today it had gained a record £21bn in new orders during the first six months of 2023 and that its earnings would grow up to 12% a share this year. The value of shares in BAE has increased 70% since the beginning of 2022.

Charles Woodburn, the BAE chief executive, told the FT:

Defence and security is moving up national agendas … There were elements of the London market in particular that were shying away from defence … our involvement in the nuclear deterrent meant that a number of our traditional shareholders in London were putting us on the wrong side of the debate.

The lineups for the exhibition football match organised by Ukrainian footballers Andrii Shevchenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko, Game4Ukraine, are beginning to be announced.

The match on 5 August at Chelsea’s ground Stamford Bridge, west London, will feature footballing legends such as Samuel Eto’o, Gianfranco Zola, Petr Čech, Gerard Piqué and Fabio Cannavaro.

The Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, has condemned the Russian attacks on infrastructure on the Danube in southern Ukraine, towards the border with his country.

Russia’s continued attacks against the Ukrainian🇺🇦 civilian infrastructure on #Danube, in the proximity of Romania🇷🇴, are unacceptable. These are war crimes and they further affect UA’s capacity to transfer their food products towards those in need in the world.

— Klaus Iohannis (@KlausIohannis) August 2, 2023

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for reconstruction, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said that the attacks damaged 40,000 tonnes of food products, Ukrinform reports.

Ukrainian grain is irreplaceable for the world and it cannot be replaced by any other country in the coming years. That is why any disruption of logistics chains causes a shortage and price hikes, which affects everyone around the world.

Reuters reports that the Russian state-owned news agency RIA is carrying a claim, without evidence, that Russia hit military targets when it struck at the Danube port city of Izmail. RIA cites a source who claims an oil terminal, a naval repair yard and a building hosting foreign military forces were the targets.

The head of Latvia’s state border guard has said the country has started training a special taskforce in response to the arrival of Wagner mercenary troops in Belarus, amid reports of a border incursion into Polish airspace.

AP reports Guntis Pujāts told Latvian media Wednesday that security risks in the immediate vicinity of the Belarus border have been high since Minsk started using migrants as a tool of “hybrid warfare” but have grown with the arrival of the Wagner group.

Poland’s authorities have been criticised after they failed to initially acknowledge that Belarusian helicopters entered Poland’s airspace on Tuesday. At first, the military insisted Belarusian aircraft had not entered Poland. But after local residents posted photos on social media of aircraft with Belarusian insignia several kilometres from the border inside Poland, the defence ministry issued a statement saying it was true.

Workers have taken down the Soviet Union emblem from the Motherland monument in Kyiv. It is to be replaced with the national symbol of Ukraine.

The shield of the Motherland monument shorn of its Soviet-era emblem.
The shield of the Motherland monument shorn of its Soviet-era emblem. Photograph: Ukrinform/Shutterstock
Workers stand by the state emblem of the Soviet Union removed from the Motherland monument.
Workers stand by the state emblem of the Soviet Union removed from the Motherland monument. Photograph: Ukrinform/Shutterstock
The monument stands in the second world war memorial complex in Kyiv.
The monument stands in the second world war memorial complex in Kyiv. Photograph: Ukrinform/Shutterstock

This video shared by Christopher Miller of the FT gives an idea of the experience of being in Kyiv during a drone attack.

He writes: “You can hear and see what we hear and see in Kyiv during Russia’s air attacks. The buzzing sound is the Iranian Shahed drone which Ukrainians call flying mopeds or flying lawnmowers. Air defences destroy it, sending debris falling to the ground.”

In this video you can hear & see what we hear & see in Kyiv during Russia’s air attacks. The buzzing sound is the Iranian Shahed drone which Ukrainians call flying mopeds or flying lawnmowers. Air defenses destroy it, sending debris falling to the ground. pic.twitter.com/WDizNhsjPR

— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) August 2, 2023

Russian drone attacks early on Wednesday damaged almost 40,000 tons of grains bound for China, Israel and countries in Africa, the Ukrainian infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, has said.

“The Russians attacked warehouses and grain elevators – almost 40,000 tons of grain were damaged, which was expected by the countries of Africa, China, and Israel,” Reuters reports Kubrakov said in a post on social media.

Kubrakov appealed for air defence equipment, saying: “The world must resist. Attacks on Ukrainian ports are a threat to the world”

Pope Francis has urged Europe to find “courageous courses of peace” to end the war in Ukraine as he opened a five-day visit to Portugal for a major Catholic youth festival.

The 86-year-old pontiff has repeatedly called for peace in Ukraine and has sought to play a mediating role, though his efforts have yet to yield results and he has faced criticism for failing to blame Russia for the war, AFP reports.

We are sailing amid storms on the ocean of history, and we sense the need for courageous courses of peace. With deep love for Europe, and in the spirit of dialogue that distinguishes this continent, we might ask her: ‘Where are you sailing, if you are not showing the world paths of peace, creative ways for bringing an end to the war in Ukraine?’

Francis, the first Latin American pope, said he hoped this year’s event would serve as an “impulse towards universal openness” for Europe.

“For the world needs Europe, the true Europe. It needs Europe’s role as a bridge and peacemaker in its eastern part, in the Mediterranean, in Africa and in the Middle East,” he said.

Pope Francis kisses a baby during the route between Belem Palace and Centro Cultural de Belem after a meeting with Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Lisbon on 2 August.
Pope Francis kisses a baby during the route between Belem Palace and Centro Cultural de Belem after a meeting with Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Lisbon on 2 August. Photograph: Reuters

A Ukrainian naval drone tried to attack a Russian warship escorting a civilian transport ship in the Black Sea early today, the state-owned RIA news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying.

The warship allegedly destroyed the drone. Its the second consecutive day the ministry has made such claims, the BBC reports. There were two reported attempted such attacks yesterday.

Here’s the full story from the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey on the attack of the Odesa region’s ports.

Russia failed to hit its targets in Kyiv but has successfully struck ports in the Odesa region with suicide drones in the latest wave of night-time strikes to follow the Kremlin’s decision to pull out of a UN-backed deal safeguarding the world’s food supply.

Fires were said to be raging at the sites of important Ukrainian infrastructure at undisclosed locations in the southern area while Ukraine’s defence ministry said a grain silo in Izmail, an inland port across the Danube River from Romania, had been badly damaged.

The shooting down of 23 Iranian-Shahed drones on Tuesday night, including 10 fired at Ukraine’s capital, highlighted the crucial role of Ukraine’s air defences, in particular the patriot systems donated by the US, but the gaps elsewhere in the country are becoming clearer every day.

The deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andrii Sybiha, has said on Monday that while Ukraine thanks its allies every day, it views the conflict with Russia as an existential battle for “the entire free world” and that supporting the country is an investment, rather than charity.

He said:

We categorically reject the attempts by some Polish politicians to impose on Polish society the baseless idea that Ukraine does not appreciate the help from Poland … Supporting us with weapons is not charity, but an investment in Poland’s own security.

It is Ukrainians who are protecting the values ​​and security of our region, and they also do it in the interests of Poland and the entire free world.

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