September 29, 2022

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Ukraine: Prison bombing, Moscow and Kiev accuse each other of first exporting grain

KYIV | Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for Friday’s bombing of a prison in eastern Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelensky oversaw the initial shipment of grain critical to global food security.

• Read more: The life sentence of the first Russian soldier has been reduced to 15 years

The Russian military reported 40 dead and 75 wounded in the strike at Olenivka prison, while pro-Russian separatist officials in the Donetsk region put the death toll at 47 and 53, respectively.

Ukrainian forces “fired using American projectiles from the Himars system on a prison where members of the Azov Battalion are being held,” according to the Russian Intelligence Service, Russia’s main intelligence agency.

The Azov Brigade, which Moscow accuses of being a neo-Nazi creation, distinguished itself in the defense of the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine against the Russian army.

After weeks of siege and resistance at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, some 2,500 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in May. Russian authorities have indicated that they will be held in Olenivka prison.

“This outrageous provocation is aimed at scaring Ukrainian soldiers and preventing them from surrendering,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

But Ukraine immediately denied targeting civilian infrastructure or prisoners of war, insisting the military “fully adheres to the principles and standards of international humanitarian law.”

In response, Ukrainian civil servants accused the Russian military of being behind the “targeted artillery bombardment”, “to accuse Ukraine of committing war crimes and to cover up the torture of prisoners and their executions there”.

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Russian state television broadcast images of burned barracks and tangles of destroyed metal beds. She showed blurry pictures of what appeared to be human bodies.

AFP has not been able to verify all of these reports from independent sources.

The bus stand was affected

Also at the military base, a Russian attack on a bus stop in southern Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region killed at least five people and wounded seven others, regional governor Vitaly Kim said.

He alleged that Russian forces were “bombarding the city in broad daylight while everyone else was doing their job.”

According to the Ukrainian president, at least eight people have been killed and 19 injured in the Donetsk region in the past 24 hours. The region, in the Donbass mining basin, has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and Moscow is seeking to seize it completely.

In the northeastern Kharkiv region, at least one person was killed and seven wounded, according to the same source.

The Ukrainian army for its part destroyed a train station in Brylivka, a village in the southern occupied region of Kherson, where Ukrainians launched a counterattack to complicate supplies for the Russian army, local MP Sergey Khlan said.

Separately, a Russian soldier’s life sentence for killing a civilian in Ukraine was reduced to 15 years in May.

Sergeant Vadim Chichimarine, 21, admitted to shooting and killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Chelyabov in the country’s northeast in the first days of the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced on May 23 for war crimes and premeditated murder.

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Immediate grain export

Exports could resume “in the coming days” on the grain front, which has been blocked in Ukraine since the start of the war, according to Kiev.

President Zelensky visited the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk on Friday to oversee the first shipment of grain to a Turkish ship based on an agreement reached with Russia on July 22.

“We are fully prepared. “We have sent all the signals to our partners, the UN and Turkey, and our army guarantees the security situation,” said Mr. Zelensky. According to him, Kiev is waiting for Ankara and the UN to “start” to guarantee the agreement.

Ukraine, like Russia, is one of the world’s largest grain exporters. Kyiv says it wants to sell 20 million tons worth about $10 billion under the deal to ease a global food crisis that has seen prices rise in some of the world’s poorest countries.

In the energy sector, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to “intensify cooperation” to “mitigate the consequences in Europe, the Middle East and the world” of the war in Ukraine, the French president said.

After the Russian invasion, the West is trying to convince Saudi Arabia to open the floodgates to get rid of the markets. Rising oil prices have fueled inflation in the US, reaching a 40-year high.