During his meeting with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed changes to the Black Sea grain export agreement. Both sides seek to boost each other’s exports by changing the agreement. A six-month de facto Russian blockade on Ukrainian ports was ended after six months of mediation by Turkey and the United Nations.
Kyiv wants the agreement expanded so Ukrainian ports can be opened for shipping. Moscow wants better guarantees for its own exports of food and fertilizer. In a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan called for an immediate end to the conflict and suggested Moscow start working on extending the Black Sea grain corridor for more food products and commodities.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine on Sunday about the Black Sea grain export agreement. Both sides seek to enhance their exports by making changes to the agreement.#TayyipErdogan #BlackSeaGrain #Ukraine #Russia #RussiaInvadedUkraine pic.twitter.com/pRTZ9NobSm
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) December 12, 2022
A UN request aims to get the West to lift some sanctions to allow Moscow to export its fertilizer and agricultural products freely. Moscow claims that the Black Sea grain agreement does not exist. “To meet the needs of countries most in need, Russia must remove the obstacles impeding relevant supplies from Russia,” the Kremlin stated. On Twitter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he and Turkish President Erdogan had “discussed further cooperation and possible expansion of the grain corridor.”
World’s Largest Grain Exporters
Russia and Ukraine hold the world’s largest grain reserves. Both countries are major grain producers and exporters. Following Russia’s invasion earlier this year, a blockade of Ukrainian ports threatened to cause a global food crisis. However, Turkish-brokered deals unblocked Ukrainian shipments by July. In addition, Putin discussed with Erdogan the possibility of creating a natural gas export base in Turkey.
Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline, damaged in September by explosions, may be redirected to Europe under the plan. Erdogan has endorsed the concept. “Joint energy projects, particularly those related to gas, were emphasized,” the Kremlin noted. In the past week, Erdogan and Gazprom’s Alexei Miller met in Istanbul.
Ukrainian Forces Struck Wagner HQ
The Ukrainian governor-in-exile reports that Ukrainian forces destroyed the headquarters of a Russian mercenary group in Luhansk following a raid on the headquarters. During the meeting in Kadiivka, Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai said that the group lost money in a hotel. To independently verify Wagner’s presence at the hotel, the BBC could not do so. Also, over the weekend, fighting erupted in southern Ukraine, with Russia attacking Odesa while Ukraine bombarded Melitopol, which is occupied. Experts in the West suggest that Wagner is a state-sponsored mercenary working for the Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close associate Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian restaurateur and businessman, has repeatedly accused the country of war crimes and human rights violations. Wagner units have previously been deployed in the Central African Republic, Syria, Crimea, Libya, and Mali. Haidai stated that Moscow had sustained huge losses in the Kadiivka attack and that “at least 50%” of the remaining forces were expected to die due to inadequate medical care.
Biden told Zelensky during their phone call that Washington was focusing on strengthening Ukraine’s air defense system as a priority. Zelensky discussed with the White House his desire for a “just peace” with Russia, which was based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter. The “Wagner HQ” was attacked in the east during further fighting in southern Ukraine. Approximately 1.5 million Ukrainians are without electricity after 10 drones were shot down and another five damaged energy facilities in Odesa on Saturday.
Russian Drones Hit Ukrainian Key Infrastructure
During his nightly video address, President Zelensky said that the current situation in the Odesa region is challenging. Due to the critical nature of the damage, it will take more than just time to restore electricity. The process doesn’t take hours but a few days. Several key infrastructures were attacked by drones made in Iran by Russia, according to Ukrainian officials. An online meeting of G-7 leaders under the leadership of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is scheduled for Monday, where further sanctions on Russia and Iran are going to be discussed.
In the ninth package of Russian sanctions, almost 200 more individuals will be placed on a list of EU sanctions due to Iran’s supply of drones to Russia. According to pro-Moscow authorities, several people were injured, and two people were killed in an attack by a Ukrainian missile in Melitopol. An official stationed in Moscow shared images showing a large fire. “On Telegram, Yevgeny Balitsky, the city’s Russian governor, said two missiles were destroyed, but four reached their targets.”
In the attack, Ukrainian forces used missile launchers supplied by the United States to destroy a “recreation center” where people were dining. This weapon in Ukraine’s counter-offensive has targeted Russia’s command posts and locations away from the frontlines. The exiled mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, claimed scores of so-called invaders had been killed. The Russian forces have occupied Melitopol since early March; it is a major logistical hub in the region.
Russia and Ukraine Launched New Attacks on Key Infrastructures
The Ukrainian military has fired multiple missiles at the Russian-occupied town of Melitopol and targeted the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, while Russian drones attacked Odesa, Ukraine’s southern port city. As a result, approximately 1.5 million people in the Odesa region are without electricity, and local officials encourage residents to evacuate their homes. Rather than days, they said in their Facebook post, “we are talking about weeks if not even months” for the repairs to be completed and the power restored.
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, says Putin is attacking the country’s water supplies and electrical grid as winter approaches. On Facebook, the Ukrainian armed forces reported that 15 drones were launched at Odesa and the surrounding area, while 10 were shot down. Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office reported that two missiles passed through and struck two power plants. According to the prosecutor’s office, Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones were said to be involved.
“All Odesa users, other than critical infrastructure, have been disconnected from the power grid due to the extent of damage,” Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov posted on Facebook. Around twenty airstrikes and more than sixty rocket attacks were reported by the Ukrainian military General Staff between Friday and Saturday. The Bakhmut district, where the most active fighting took place, was home to more than twenty inhabited places under fire.
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