Ships laden with grain continue to leave Ukraine as a deal with Russia holds and fighting continues to shift toward southeast Ukraine along the Dnieper River. Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.
- Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,Europe’s largest, located in southeast Ukraine. It was seized by Russian forces in March and its closeness to front-line fighting is triggering international fears of a nuclear crisis. The U.N. nuclear watchdog has appealed for access to the plant and called the situation “extremely grave and dangerous.”
- There has been no damage to reactors and no radiological release from the attack, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a statement Saturday. He repeated his call to send an IAEA mission of experts to help secure the nuclear plant. “But this will need the cooperation, understanding and facilitation from both Ukraine and Russia,” Grossi’s statement said.
- The deal to lift a Russian blockade on millions of tons of Ukrainian grain appears to be working. Zelensky said about 60,000 tons of corn are on board a vessel en route to consumers in Turkey, Britain and Ireland, and will ease a food crisis in parts of Africa and Asia. Ukraine is predicting it can ship 3 to 5 million tons of grain a month if the agreement with Russia holds.
- Ukraine’s security services, the SBU, detained two men who it says were spying for Russia in the Mykolaiv region, according to a Telegram messagefrom the agency posted Saturday. The SBU said the men helped Russia launch targeted strikes and destroy shipbuilding infrastructure.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Friday, their second meeting in 2½ weeks. In a joint statement, the leaders said they had agreed to increase the volume of trade between their countries, and reaffirmed the Ukraine grain deal.
- Britain’s defense ministry said Saturday the war was “about to enter a new phase,” with heavy fighting shifting to between Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, along the Dnieper River. Russian forces are “almost certainly massing in the south,” it added, with long convoys of military trucks, tanks and artillery seen moving away from Donbas heading southwest.
- Russian-backed forces have continued attacks in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook on Saturday. “The enemy is conducting an offensive operation in the Donetsk direction, concentrating its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions,” the General Staff said. Bakhmut and Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine are key targets for Russia.
- The latest report from U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War said that Russia was using Iranian-provided drones in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych. He said Friday that Iran had given at least 46 drones to Russia. The White House said in July that it had gathered evidence that Russian officials made multiple trips to an Iranian airfield to examine drones for purchase.
- Russia’s vow to annex pockets of occupied Ukraine and hold votes in the country’s east and south as soon as September is presenting the United States and its partners with a predicament. The White House has warned that any “sham” referendums would bring “additional costs” to Russia, but trepidation is growing in Washington and Kyiv over whether the West is well enough positioned to avert such a pivotal shift in the war….
Putin keeps stories of his troops battlefield losses under wraps to keep support for his Ukraine actions supported?
The number of war dead is a state secret. It is a crime to question the invasion or criticize the military. Independent journalists who speak to bereaved relatives or cover funerals have been arrested and told that showing such “tears and suffering” is bad for public morale. Authorities have ordered some online memorial pages to be shut down.
The Kremlin’s priority has been to prevent angry voices of mourning families and antiwar activists from coming together and gaining traction. Information about war dead could deter Russia’s increasingly urgent recruitment effort, scraping up prisoners with military experience and offering highly paid contracts for deployments….
…independent analyst Bobo Lo of the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank, believes the Kremlin has largely contained the risk of unrest over the high casualty count. Because most people are so cautious about airing dissent, gauging the real level of support for the war is difficult. Pollster VCIOM, which is close to government authorities, reported in June that 72 percent of Russians back the fighting….
Ukraine’s children now….
“Every one of Ukraine’s 5.7 million children have trauma,’’ said Murat Sahin, who represents the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, in Ukraine. “I wouldn’t say that 10 percent or 50 percent of them are OK — everyone is experiencing it, and it takes years to heal.”
According to humanitarian agencies, more than a third of Ukrainian children — 2.2 million — have been forced to flee their homes, with many of them displaced two or three times, as territory is lost. Over half of Ukraine’s children — 3.6 million — may not have a school to go back to come September.
Yet even with war moving into its sixth month, children’s advocates say there is time to make meaningful changes to how young people emerge from the conflict.
In Lviv’s maternity wards, mothers pray that the fighting ends before their infants are old enough to remember it. In eastern Ukraine, activists search for children who disappeared across the front lines. Across the country, aid workers and Ukrainian officials are scrambling to repair bombed-out schools and start psychological support….