A cargo ship carrying the first shipment of grain from Ukraine since the Kremlin’s invasion is on its way to its final destination in Tripoli, Lebanon, after a Russian and Ukrainian team completed an inspection of the vessel in Istanbul on Wednesday. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
18:52: The UN will launch a fact-finding mission into the Ukraine prison attack
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he will launch a fact-finding mission into an attack in the frontline Ukrainian town of Olenivka. killed prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Russia and Ukraine both requested an investigation, Guterres told reporters. He said the mandate for the mission, which would need the approval of Russia and Ukraine, was being prepared.
16:37: Ukraine increases wartime grain harvest forecast
Ukraine’s forecast for its 2022 wartime harvest has increased to 65-67 million tonnes of grain from 60 million tonnes, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday.
In a telegram message, he praised farmers for continuing to harvest despite the war, even in areas where shelling continues.
12:15 p.m.: Russia’s Putin told ex-German chancellor Schroeder Nord Stream 2 pipeline ready for use
Russian President Vladimir Putin told former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder during their meeting last week that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was ready to be used to help with supplies to Europe, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
Peskov said Putin told Schroeder that Russian gas supplies have dropped to about 30 million cubic meters per day from 167 million cubic meters after Poland sanctioned the Yamal-Europe pipeline and Ukraine stopped flows through one of the routes.
11:55: Inspection of the first grain shipment from Ukraine completed in Turkey
A Russian and Ukrainian team carried out an inspection in Istanbul on Wednesday of a cargo ship carrying the first shipment of grain from Ukraine since the Kremlin’s invasion, Turkish officials said.
The team of 20 inspectors, which also included UN and Turkish officials, has “completed its inspection work aboard the Razoni”, allowing the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel to sail on to its final destination in Lebanon, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.
11:49: Finland seizes goods with military use at the Russian border
Finlands customs service said on Wednesday it had caught several travelers carrying drones and other sanctioned goods across the border with Russia that could boost Moscow’s “industrial and military capabilities”.
The seizures came as Finland debates restrictions on Russian visas following Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The increasing number of Russian tourists in Finland has led to discontent as many believe that tourism should be limited due to the war in Ukraine. Finland’s conservative opposition party last week proposed a freeze on new tourist visas for Russians.
President Sauli Niinisto is due to discuss the issue with the government on Thursday and the proposal appears to have broad support in parliament. Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia “would react very negatively” if there was a restriction on Russian visas.
After Russia lifted Covid travel restrictions on July 15, the number of Russian tourists heading to Finland has steadily increased. Although the numbers are still below pre-Covid levels, there were more than 185,000 border crossings in July, up from 125,000 in June.
11am: Russia says it destroyed weapons cache in Ukraine’s Lviv region
Russia’s defense minister said on Wednesday that its missiles had destroyed a depot containing weapons from Poland in Ukraine’s Lviv region.
9:37: Zelensky says he would like to see China join countries opposed to Russia
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that China is balancing and maintaining neutrality over Russia’s war in Ukraine, but that he would like to see China join countries opposed to Moscow over the invasion.
9:17 Inspection team heads to first Ukrainian grain ship off Turkish coast
He made the comments via video link at an event organized at the Australian National University.
A team of inspectors set off on a boat to check the first grain-carrying vessel to leave wartime Ukrainian ports on Wednesday, images on state broadcaster TRT Haber showed, a day after it anchored in the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey.
The ship Razoni, which carries 26,527 tons of corn to Lebanonleft the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Monday and was to be inspected by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel working at a Joint Coordination Center in nearby Istanbul.
07:46: Russia’s Lavrov: The US has not offered Moscow to resume talks on New START
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the United States had made no plans to resume talks on a new strategic nuclear arms reduction agreement to replace the so-called “New START” treaty of 2011.
United States President Joe Biden said he was ready to “quickly negotiate a new arms control framework” to replace New START when it expires in 2026, while President Vladimir Putin said there could be no winners in any nuclear war.
“It has become their habit to announce things over the microphone and then forget them,” Lavrov said. “There has been no approach for us to resume the negotiation process.”
7:12 am: UK military intelligence says it is highly unlikely that the Kherson-Crimea rail link will remain operational
The rail link linking Russian-occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine with Crimea is highly unlikely to work due to a Ukrainian attack on a Russian ammunition train, UK said on Wednesday.
Russian forces are likely to repair the railway line within days, although it will remain a vulnerability for Russian forces and their logistical resupply route from Crimea to Kherson, Britain said in an intelligence update on Twitter.
It is likely that there will be an increase in civilians trying to flee Kherson and surrounding areas, as hostilities continue and food shortages worsen, according to the update.
02:05: The US Senate will hold a vote on Wednesday on the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO
The US Senate will hold votes on Wednesday to approve both Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to the NATOMajority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Tuesday.
Schumer said the debate will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET (1730 GMT).
01:35: The French parliament ratifies Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO
France’s National Assembly voted to ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO the following Tuesday the historic decisions of the two countries to give up their neutrality. The measure was adopted with 209 votes in favor and 46 against.
France joins “twenty allies” that “have already ratified the protocols,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said.
All thirty NATO member states need to formally ratify the measure before Sweden and Finland can enjoy the full protection of Article 5 of the NATO Charter in the event of an attack. Meanwhile, Turkey is threatening to “freeze” the process, accusing the two Scandinavian countries of helping the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its allies, which Ankara considers terrorist organizations.
12:30pm: Woman believed to be Putin’s ‘girlfriend’ hit in latest round of US sanctions
The US blacklisted Russia’s president Vladimir Putins alleged girlfriend and the tycoon owner of London’s second-largest estate on Tuesday in the latest round of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
Several other oligarchs believed to be close to Putin, four officials, were also hit by US business bans Russia has appointed to administer occupied territories in Ukraine, and about two dozen high-tech institutes and companies, including key state-supported electronics entities.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Originally published on France24