Ukraine: Putin accuses the United States of dragging out the conflict – 08/17/2022 at 00:25


A house destroyed by a missile strike in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on August 16, 2022 ( AFP / ANATOLII STEPANOV )

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused the United States of dragging out the conflict in Ukraine, sparked by a military offensive by Moscow almost six months ago, as the first UN-chartered humanitarian ship left Ukraine loaded grain to get to Africa.

To discuss in particular the implementation of the agreement allowing these exports of Ukrainian cereals, signed in July by kyiv and Moscow under the aegis of the United Nations and via mediation by Turkey, the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres will travel to Ukraine on Thursday, where he will meet Ukrainian Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Mr. Guterres will go to Odessa, one of the three ports used under the grain export agreement, on Friday before heading to Turkey.

They will discuss “the need for a political solution to this conflict,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

President Zelensky remains very active on the diplomatic front, reporting on social media interviews with representatives of the group of “The Elders”, including former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, or with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

With the latter, was “discussed in particular the increase in financial support for (Ukraine) and sanctions against Russia”, according to Mr. Zelensky.

The war, which began on February 24, has led to heavy sanctions on Russia from Western countries and historical financial and military aid to Ukraine, further heightening international tensions.

Vladimir Putin thus criticized the United States on Tuesday for seeking to “destabilize” the world, referring to the recent visit to Taiwan by the speaker of the American House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

“The situation in Ukraine shows that the United States is trying to drag out this conflict. And it is doing the same by cultivating the possibility of conflict in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America,” Putin told the International Security Conference in Moscow.

He denounced an “insolent demonstration of their lack of respect for the sovereignty of other countries and their international obligations”.

– “Goldsmith’s work” –

A Ukrainian tank along the frontline in the Donetsk region on August 15, 2022 (AFP/Anatolii Stepanov)

A Ukrainian tank along the frontline in the Donetsk region on August 15, 2022 (AFP/Anatolii Stepanov)

On the ground, a new incident occurred on Tuesday at a Russian military base in Crimea (south), annexed by Russia in 2014, which serves as a logistics rear base for Moscow forces: “An act of sabotage”, according to Moscow, has caused the explosion of ammunition at Jankoy.

Two civilians were injured, according to the governor of the peninsula Sergei Aksionov. A high voltage line, a power plant, a railway line and houses were damaged, according to the Russian army.

The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Andriï Iermak claimed on Telegram an “operation + demilitarization + goldsmith’s work by the Ukrainian armed forces”.

Crimea plays a key role in Russian strategy. It was from there that the offensive on southern Ukraine was launched, which enabled Moscow to capture large swaths of territory in the first weeks of the war. Russian planes also take off almost daily from Crimea to strike targets in areas under kyiv control.

Despite the conflict, the peninsula has remained an important vacation spot for many Russians who continue to enjoy summer on its beaches.

They will travel less easily to Finland from September 1: the neighboring country of Russia has announced a drastic reduction in visas for Russian tourists, to 10% of the current volume.

– “Nuclear deterrence” –

Map showing the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine (AFP/)

Map showing the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine (AFP/)

The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, captured by the Russians in March, also remains a source of major tension. Several strikes of which Moscow and kyiv accuse each other have targeted the installation, the largest in Europe.

If the fear of a nuclear disaster has been brandished as far as the UN Security Council, the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, tried to reassure on Tuesday about Russian intentions.

“The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is deterrence of nuclear attack,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron nevertheless called for the withdrawal of Russian forces from the plant. In a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, he stressed “his concern about the threat posed by the presence, the actions of the Russian armed forces and the context of war with the ongoing conflicts on the safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and called for the withdrawal of these forces”, indicated the French presidency.

The Ukrainian public operator Energoatom denounced an “unprecedented” Russian cyberattack against its site on Tuesday, specifying however that its operation had not been disrupted.

– Cereals for Africa –

The first UN-chartered ship, the MV Brave Commander, in the port of Yuzhne on August 14, 2022 in Ukraine (AFP / OLEKSANDR GIMANOV)

The first UN-chartered ship, the MV Brave Commander, in the port of Yuzhne on August 14, 2022 in Ukraine (AFP / OLEKSANDR GIMANOV)

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure, a UN ship loaded with 23,000 tons of grain left Tuesday from Pivdenny (southern Ukraine) for Ethiopia. It is the first UN ship to leave Ukraine following the July 22 agreement allowing the export of Ukrainian grain. Since then, more than fifteen boats have been able to set sail, according to kyiv, but no humanitarian cargo from the UN.

The conflict has blocked the export of these agricultural products for months, worsening food insecurity in many developing countries.

According to the World Food Program (WFP), 345 million people in 82 countries are now facing acute food insecurity and up to 50 million people in 45 countries are at risk of starvation without humanitarian assistance.

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