The essentials in brief:
- UN offers Moscow concessions
- UNESCO protection for Ukrainian cultural assets
- Damper from Kyiv for the Vatican
- Berlin condemns elections in Russian-occupied territories
- Another new US military package
After Russia canceled the agreement to export Ukrainian grain, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wants to save the deal with concessions to Moscow. In a letter, Guterres suggested to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Moscow could be reconnected to the international financial communications network Swift for certain payments with the creation of a subsidiary by the sanctioned Russian agricultural bank.
This means that the export of fertilizers and some agricultural products from Russia could be made possible again within 30 days. In the letter, dated August 28, Guterres makes three other suggestions to enable these Russian exports. This involves insuring Russian ships during exports, thawing frozen assets of fertilizer companies in Europe and allowing Russian ships to enter European ports.
The letter indirectly suggests that the United Nations is working with the EU for these concessions. The EU had already considered the possibility of allowing Russia to circumvent sanctions by establishing a subsidiary in the summer. The aim was to convince Russia to allow the export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea again.
UNESCO protects cultural assets
The UN cultural organization UNESCO has placed 20 cultural assets in Ukraine under enhanced temporary protection. These include, among others, the historic center of Lviv, St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and the residence of the Metropolitans of Bukovina and Dalmatia in Chernivtsi. The special protection status allows the alleged perpetrators of the destruction of these cultural assets to be prosecuted or extradited.
The Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflicts condemned at a special meeting the “severe damage caused by Russian missile attacks on historical buildings of cultural significance in Lviv, Odessa and Chernihiv.” The Ukrainian security forces and judicial staff are to be trained in the protection of cultural heritage, UNESCO announced in Paris.
Ukraine rejects Vatican mediation
The Vatican’s efforts to promote dialogue between the two warring parties, Ukraine and Russia, have suffered a serious setback. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoljak rejected mediation by the Catholic Church on news channel 24 on the grounds that Pope Francis was “pro-Russian”.
For months, the Vatican has been trying to initiate talks between Kiev and Moscow with a special adviser. Podoljak was referring to the Pope’s statements at the end of August. At that time, the head of the Catholic Church spoke of “Great Mother Russia” at a reception for Russian young people. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s confidant said: “It makes no sense to talk about a mediator under the name of Roman Pope when he takes a pro-Russian position that is obvious to everyone.”
The Pope himself repeatedly calls for peace in public appearances and regularly reminds us of the suffering of the Ukrainians. However, he does not directly name Russia as the aggressor on such occasions. This cost the Argentine early support in Ukraine.
Blinken speaks about Russian drone in Romania
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Romanian counterpart Luminita Odobescu about the debris of a Russian drone on Romanian territory. According to the US State Department, the call was about Romania’s investigation into drone debris found on the border with Ukraine.
Blinken and Odobescu also discussed continuing to maintain airspace security. The Romanian minister on Thursday rejected the Ukrainian claim that Russian drones had landed and exploded in the NATO member country.
Berlin condemns elections in Russian-occupied territories
The Foreign Office has condemned the local and regional elections currently taking place in Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine. The “sham elections” are “nothing more than a transparent propaganda exercise,” explained the Foreign Ministry on the online service X, formerly Twitter. “We do not recognize Russia’s attempted land grab,” it said.
Russia is holding regional elections this week, including in the four Ukrainian regions it partially controls. However, these votes organized by the Russian occupying power have no international validity. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), for example, has already declared that only Ukraine has the authority to hold elections in its own country. “The organization of elections in temporarily occupied territories violates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” an OSCE statement said.
Baerbock understands the desire for cruise missiles
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has shown understanding that Ukraine is demanding long-range Taurus cruise missiles. In the newspapers of the Funke media group, the Green politician pointed out the huge minefields that were laid by the Russian army between the occupied territories and the rest of Ukraine.
“In order to free the people in eastern Ukraine, in order to hit Russian supply lines behind the defense line, the mine belt must be overcome,” said Baerbock. “In this respect, the Ukrainian request for a device with a longer range is more than understandable.” Nevertheless, the Foreign Minister spoke out in favor of careful examination.
Cuba: Suspicion of human trafficking for Ukraine war
In Cuba, 17 people have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking. They are said to have persuaded young Cubans to serve in the Russian army, said Cesar Rodriguez, a colonel in the Cuban Interior Ministry. According to the prosecutor, the suspects face up to 30 years in prison, life imprisonment or the death penalty, depending on the severity and type of crime. The allegations include human trafficking, fighting as a mercenary and acts of war against another state.
New US military package worth $600 million for Ukraine
The USA is providing further military aid to Ukraine. The US Department of Defense announced in Washington that the new package was worth around 600 million US dollars (around 560.9 million euros). It includes, among other things, ammunition for the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, artillery ammunition and mine clearing equipment. According to the information, the equipment is procured from the industry.
The day before, the USA had already announced military aid worth 175 million dollars (around 163 million euros) – parallel to the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kiev. According to ministry information, the USA has provided or promised military aid worth more than $43.7 billion (around €40.9 billion) for Kiev since the war began at the end of February 2022.
Ukraine reports four deaths from Russian attacks
According to Ukrainian sources, a total of four people were killed and dozens injured in a series of Russian attacks. Three civilians were killed by a bomb dropped from a plane over Odradokamianka in the southern Kherson region, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on the Telegram online service.
According to rescue workers, an administrative building was attacked in Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the south of the country. One person was killed and 44 were injured. According to the Ukrainian police, the man killed was a police officer. Nine of his colleagues were among the injured.
Russian border region reports drone attack on industrial plant
According to official information, an industrial facility in the Russian border region of Bryansk was attacked by drones and set on fire. An administrative building caught fire, wrote Governor Alexander Bogomas on Telegram.
Bogomas blames Ukraine for the drone attack, in which no one was injured. The Russian Defense Ministry said shortly afterwards that air defense in Bryansk had repelled two drones.
Ukraine reports progress near Bakhmut
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reports a “partial success” near the eastern city of Bakhmut. There is also progress in the advance of Ukrainian troops south to the Sea of Azov.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address that he thanked and awarded military units in the east and south of the country for their actions against Russian troops. Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which began in June, initially focused on recapturing Bakhmut, which had been captured by Russian troops in May.
rb/wa/fab/jj (afp, ap, dpa, epd, kna, rtr)
This article will be continually updated on the day it is published. Reports from combat zones cannot be independently verified.