- Official says Ukraine is consulting with the US on the use of HIMARS bombers
- The suspension prompts the Kremlin to accuse the United States of direct involvement
- No immediate comment from the White House or the Pentagon
- Ukraine’s first wartime grain export ship arrives in the Bosphorus strait
- US sanctions target ex-Olympic gymnast seen as close to Putin
ISTANBUL/LONDON (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of direct involvement in the Ukraine war as the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to global markets since conquering Moscow docked safely off the Turkish coast after a trouble-free voyage.
Russia said it was responding to comments by Vadim Skipetsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, about the way Kyiv used US-made High Mobility Artillery System (HIMARS) launchers supplied to it based on what he described as excellent, real-time satellite imagery. Information.
Skipetsky told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that there had been consultations between US and Ukrainian intelligence officials ahead of the strikes and that Washington had effective veto power over the intended targets, although he said US officials had not provided direct targeting information.
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The Russian Defense Ministry, headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the interview showed Washington was embroiled in the conflict despite repeated assurances that it was limiting its role to arms supplies because it did not want a direct confrontation with Moscow. Read more
“All this proves undeniably that Washington, contrary to the allegations of the White House and the Pentagon, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The Biden administration is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved missile attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in populated areas of Donbass and other areas, which resulted in significant civilian casualties.”
There was no immediate reaction from the White House or the Pentagon to the ministry’s assertions.
The Pentagon, however, denied Moscow’s allegations that Russia had destroyed six US-made Hemars systems since the war in Ukraine began on February 24. Russia regularly claims to have hit Himmars, but has yet to provide evidence. Read more
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of carrying out devastating missile attacks on civilian targets on an almost daily basis. Both sides deny deliberately targeting civilians.
The accuracy and long range of the missile systems provided by the West were intended to reduce Russia’s artillery advantage, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday night that despite these supplies, his country’s forces had not yet been able to overcome Russia’s advantages in heavy guns and manpower.
“This is very palpable in combat, especially in Donbass… It’s just hell out there. Words can’t describe it,” he said.
Meanwhile, a U.N.-brokered deal on July 22 to scrap Ukraine’s grain export ban had initial success — Turkey said its first loaded ship since the Russian invasion more than five months ago was anchored safely off the Turkish coast. Read more
The vessel, flying the Sierra Leone flag, was at the entrance to the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to world markets, around 1800 GMT on Tuesday, about 36 hours after leaving the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said a delegation from the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, where personnel from Russia, Ukraine, Turks and the United Nations work, is expected to inspect the ship at 0700 GMT on Wednesday.
It was loaded with 26,527 tons of corn.
“We hope there will be more movement out tomorrow,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
Dujarric said that there are about 27 ships in the three Ukrainian ports covered by the export agreement, ready to launch.
Exports from one of the world’s largest grain producers are meant to help ease the global food crisis. The United Nations has warned of the risks of multiple famines this year due to the war in Ukraine.
The export agreement between Russia and Ukraine was a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has become a protracted war of attrition since Russian troops poured across the border in February.
“Our goal now is to have an orderly schedule, so when one of the ships leaves port, there should be other ships – both those that are loading and those that are approaching port,” Ukraine’s Zelensky said.
For the Safe Passage Agreement to hold, there are other hurdles to overcome, including clearing naval mines and creating a framework for ships to safely enter the war zone and pick up cargo. Read more
Ukraine, known as Europe’s breadbasket, hopes to export 20 million tons of grain stored in silos and 40 million tons of the harvest now underway, initially from Odessa, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk nearby, to help clean up the silos for the new crop.
Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of planting mines that are now floating around the Black Sea and are a danger to navigation.
Russia described Razouni’s departure as “very positive” news. It has denied responsibility for the food crisis, saying Western sanctions have slowed its exports.
In addition to those sanctions, the United States on Tuesday targeted former Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, whom the Treasury Department described as having a close relationship with Putin. Putin denied that they had a romantic relationship.
The ministry said in a statement that Kabaeva heads the National Media Group, a pro-Kremlin group that includes television, radio and print organizations.
The United States also imposed sanctions on the Russian steel-producing company MMK (MAGN.MM) and several prominent businessmen, including Andrei Gurev, founder of the Russian fertilizer company Vosagro (PHOR.MM), which are not included in the penalties. Read more
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Andrew Osborne and Mark Heinrich; Editing by Nick McPhee, Grant McCall, and Howard Guler
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