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Russia-Ukraine War: Frequent Explosions Behind Russian Lines Hitting Logistics, Says UK – Live

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Here is a roundup of what we know as of yesterday regarding the Russia-Ukraine war.

Turkey has said that two more ships carrying grain have left Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port, bringing the total number of vessels to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports under a U.N.-brokered grain export deal to 27.

Reuters reports:

The Zumrut Ana and MV Ocean S, which are authorized to depart on Aug. 20, were loaded with 6,300 tonnes of sunflower oil and 25,000 tonnes of wheat respectively, the joint coordination centre set up to enable safe passage said in a statement.

Ukraine’s Sea Ports Authority said on Saturday three Ukrainian seaports had begun loading food onto seven ships, which would deliver 66,500 tonnes of wheat, corn and sunflower oil to consumers.

Ukraine’s grain exports have slumped since the start of the war because its Black Sea ports – a vital route for shipments – were closed, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.

At the end of July, three Black Sea ports were unblocked under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

Frequent explosions behind Russian lines hitting logistics, says UKIn its daily intelligence briefing, the UK’s Ministry of Defence says:

The last week has seen only minimal changes in territorial control along the front line. In the Donbas, after small advances from early August, Russian forces have approached the outskirts of the town of Bakhmut, but have not yet broken into the built-up area.

Russia has not made any major efforts to advance in the Zaporizhzhia or Kharkiv sectors.

In the south-west, neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces have made advances on the Kherson front line.

However, it adds the “increasingly frequent explosions behind Russian lines are probably stressing Russian logistics and air basing in the south”.

Russia has reported fresh Ukrainian drone attacks, a day after explosions erupted near military bases in Russian-held areas of Ukraine and in Russia.

The latest apparent displays of Kyiv’s growing ability to pummel Moscow’s assets far from front lines occurred on Friday evening, Reuters reported, and followed huge blasts last week at an air base in Russian-annexed Crimea.

In a new assessment, a western official said the earlier explosions had rendered half of Russia’s Black Sea naval aviation force useless.

Russia’s RIA and Tass news agencies, citing a local official in Crimea, said it appeared Russian anti-aircraft forces had been in action near the western Crimean port of Yevpatoriya on Friday night. Video posted by a Russian website showed what appeared to be a ground-to-air missile hitting a target.

Tass cited a local official as saying Russian anti-aircraft forces knocked down six Ukrainian drones sent to attack the town of Nova Kakhovka, east of the city of Kherson. Ukraine says retaking Kherson is one of its main priorities.

Separately, an official in Crimea said defences there had downed an unspecified number of drones over the city of Sevastopol.

The aftermath of a suspected Ukrainian strike on a Russian arms depot at Nova Kakhovka in Kherson last month. Photograph: EyePress News/REX/ShutterstockVladimir Putin’s agreement to allow independent inspectors to travel to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to the French presidency, comes as concerns grow over fighting near the Russian-occupied site.

The UN nuclear watchdog’s chief, Rafael Grossi, “welcomed recent statements indicating that both Ukraine and Russia supported the [International Atomic Energy Agency’s] aim to send a mission to” the plant, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Kremlin said after Putin and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke by phone on Friday that the two leaders had agreed that the IAEA should carry out inspections as soon as possible to “assess the real situation on the ground”.

A flare-up in fighting around the Russian-controlled nuclear power station – with both sides blaming each other for attacks – has raised the spectre of a disaster worse than in Chernobyl.

The Kremlin said Putin stressed that shelling of the plant “creates the danger of a large-scale catastrophe”.

The warning came a day after the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, and the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and sounded the alarm over the fighting. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, urged the UN to secure the site.

SummaryHello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. As it approaches 9.30am in Kyiv, here is a summary of the latest developments on this Saturday 20 August 2022.

Vladimir Putin has agreed to inspectors visiting the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. According to the office of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the Russian leader had “reconsidered the demand” that the International Atomic Energy Agency travel through Russia to the site, after Putin himself warned fighting there could bring about a “catastrophe”. The office said Putin had dropped his demand that the IAEA team travel to the site via Russia, saying it could arrive via Ukraine.

The UN secretary general has asked Russia not take the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant off grid. António Guterres asked on Friday that the Russian-occupied facility not be cut off from Ukraine’s electrical grid after Ukrainian reports that Moscow was planning to do so, saying the plant used “Ukrainian electricity”.

Western officials say there are growing concerns over concerns over water cooling at the Zaporizhzhia plant. Its existing reactor cooling system is critical to the safety of the site and relies on the maintenance of the electricity supply to ensure operation, but officials are anxious that Russia may disconnect the supply if it tries to cut off the plant from Ukraine’s grid.

More than half of Russia Black Sea naval aviation has been knocked out, according to a western official in Ukraine. The Ukrainian raid on the Saky airbase in occupied Crimea last week knocked out “more than half” of Russia’s combat naval aviation in the Black Sea, western officials have said. However, overall “combat stasis” remains.

The US has announced a new $775m (£655m) package of defence equipment and ammunition for Ukraine, including various types of missiles, drones, artillery and mine-clearing systems. The US has previously sent Ukraine more than $9bn in weapons systems, ammunition and other equipment.

Russia’s media watchdog said it was taking punitive measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord and Pinterest. Russia has repeatedly threatened to fine sites – including Google – that violate harsh new laws criminalising the spreading of “false information” about the Russian army. On Tuesday, Russian courts fined the US-based live streaming service Twitch 2 million roubles ($34,000) and messenger service Telegram 11 million roubles for violating military censorship laws.

A former Russian mayor has been appointed head of Russian-occupied Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. It is the latest in a string of such appointments, which Kyiv says are part of attempts to annexe its territory.

Ukraine’s economy minister has said the country’s economy could contract 35-40% by the end of the year. Hit by Russia’s 24 February invasion, the economy contracted 15.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022.

The Kyiv Independent reported that rescuers are searching for people and bodies under the rubble of a dormitory destroyed in attacks on Kharkiv.

The Chinese and Russian leaders, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, will attend the G20 summit in Bali in November, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, told Bloomberg News. “Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” he said. As hosts of this year’s summit, Indonesia has faced pressure from western countries to withdraw its invitation to Putin. The country has also invited the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Kharkiv has been one of the most consistently shelled cities since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to British intelligence. Sitting around 15km from the Russian front line, Kharkiv has suffered because it remains within range of most types of Russian artillery, the latest report from the UK’s ministry of defence reads.

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