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Russian drone strikes damaged grain facilities at the Ukrainian ports of Izmayil and Odesa overnight, authorities said on August 2, prompting Turkey to call on the Kremlin to avoid escalating the already high tensions in and around the Black Sea.

Ukrainian authorities said that a grain silo was damaged in Izmayil, one of the two Danube ports that Ukraine has been using to export its grain since Moscow last month refused to extend a Turkey- and UN-brokered deal that had allowed the export of Ukrainian grain and other produce by sea.

“Another elevator in the port of Izmayil, Odesa region, was damaged by Russians. Ukrainian grain has the potential to feed millions of people worldwide,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said that there were almost 40,000 tons of grain in the warehouses and elevators in Izmayil.

Kubrakov said the grain was expected by African countries, China, and Israel, adding that the sea station and infrastructure of the Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company, the key Ukrainian freight carrier on the Danube, were damaged.

Izmayil is located some 15 kilometers north of Tulcea, a major Danube port of NATO-member Romania. Last week, Russian drones struck Reni, the other Danube port used by Ukraine to export grain. Reni is some 200 meters across the Danube from Romania.

In Odesa, Russian drones struck grain storage facilities, regional Governor Oleh Kiper reported.

“As a result of the attack, fires broke out at port facilities and at industrial infrastructure objectives in the region, and a [grain] elevator was damaged,” Kiper wrote on Telegram.

Odesa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, has been increasingly subjected to Russian shelling and drone attacks since Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a message on Telegram that port installations in the south had incurred significant damage.

“We are defending ourselves with the maximum of available forces…. Unfortunately, there is damage. The most significant is in the south of the country. Russian terrorists again attacked ports, grain, and global food security,” Zelenskiy said, adding, “Russia can and must be stopped.”

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also condemned the attack on the Danube port, calling it a “war crime.”

“Russia’s continued attacks against the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure on Danube, in the proximity of Romania, are unacceptable. These are war crimes and they further affect UA’s capacity to transfer their food products towards those in need in the world,” Iohannis said on social media.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Russia has destroyed 180,000 tons of grain inside Ukraine, including 40,000 tons destroyed on August 2, since refusing to extend the grain deal. Attacks that target grain infrastructure, shipping infrastructure, and stored grain are harmful to countries around the world, particularly developing countries that depend on grain exports from Ukraine for survival, Miller said.

Ukraine is a major supplier of wheat, corn, vegetable oil, and other agricultural products to the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. Ukraine can export the products through Europe by road and rail, but those methods are more costly than by sea.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to abstain from moves that would exacerbate tensions, Erdogan’s office said after the two leaders held a phone call.

“President Erdogan expressed the importance of refraining from steps that could escalate tensions during the Russia-Ukraine war, emphasizing the significance of the Black Sea initiative, which he described as a bridge of peace,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on August 2 reiterated Moscow’s position on the grain deal, saying Moscow was ready to return to it “immediately” once the part that concerns Russia was implemented.

Peskov was commenting a day after the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said there were “indications” Russia might be interested in returning to discussions on the deal, which had allowed Ukraine to export grain by sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry late on August 2 introduced restrictions on the movement of ships and aircraft through the Kerch Strait, TASS reported. The ministry gave no reason for the restrictions.

Ships that pass through the strait during daylight hours on recommended routes in transit to local ports are exempt, it said. The ministry also announced that an inspection area has been created for ships coming to the strait from the Black Sea.

In Kyiv, an overnight Russian drone attack failed to cause major damage or casualties, Kyiv’s regional governor, Serhiy Popko, said on Telegram.

“All air targets, more than 10 drones, were detected and destroyed by our air-defense forces,” Popko said.

“Nonresidential facilities and road surfaces have suffered some damage, but without serious destruction or fires,” Popko said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces have been engaged in heavy fighting in the northeast, where Russian forces have been attempting to advance in the Kupyansk direction, and in the southeast, where their counteroffensive has been making incremental progress in the face of stern Russian resistance aided by massive fortifications.

Ukrainian troops fought more than 40 close-combat battles over the past day, the General Staff of Ukraine’s military said in its daily report on August 2, adding that indiscriminate Russian shelling and air strikes had caused more casualties among civilians.

“During the past 24 hours, the enemy launched one missile, 75 air strikes, and 68 rocket salvoes on the positions of our troops and on civilian-populated areas. Unfortunately, there are victims among the civilian population,” the military said.

The previous day, a Russian missile attack hit a hospital in the southern city of Kherson, killing a doctor and injuring several medical workers.

In a separate incident in a northeastern village, an elderly woman was killed and a man was wounded in Russian shelling during the day on August 1.

Meanwhile, since the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, some 50,000 Ukrainians have lost arms or legs, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from the world’s largest prosthesis manufacturer, Germany’s Ottobock, and its medical partners.

The figures are comparable to those registered during World War I, the newspaper said. The actual number of amputees may be higher, it added, because prosthetics take time to make, and some victims wait weeks or even months for an amputation after being wounded.

Zelenskiy told Ukrainian diplomats in a speech published on the president’s website that he hoped a “peace summit” could be held in the autumn and that talks later this week in Saudi Arabia were a stepping stone toward that goal.

Zelenskiy said almost 40 countries would be represented at the meeting in Jeddah on Aug 5-6.

“We are working on making [the summit] happen this fall,” he said. “Autumn is very soon, but there is still time to prepare for the summit and involve most of the world’s countries.”

The summit would build on a 10-point plan outlined by Kyiv last year that calls for the full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and a full withdrawal of Russian troops, the protection of food and energy security, nuclear safety, the release of all prisoners, and other points.

No venue has been agreed for the summit yet. Ukrainian and Western officials have said Russia would not be among the countries present.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and The Wall Street journal


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