Ship part

Russia accuses US of playing direct role in war on Ukraine, grain ship spotted off Turkey

  • Ukraine consults with the United States on the use of HIMAR rocket systems
  • Comment prompts Kremlin to accuse US of direct involvement
  • No immediate comment from the White House or the Pentagon
  • Ukraine’s first wartime grain export ship approaches Turkey
  • US imposes sanctions on former Olympic gymnast considered close to Putin

ISTANBUL/LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of being directly involved in the war against Ukraine as the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since the invasion of Moscow headed for Lebanon without any problem.

Russia said it was responding to comments by Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, about Kyiv’s use of US-provided HIMAR long-range rocket launch systems based on what he called excellent satellite images and real-time information.

Skibitsky told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that there had been consultations between US and Ukrainian intelligence officials before the strikes and that Washington had an effective veto over the targets, although he said the US officials did not provide direct information on targeting.

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The Russian Defense Ministry, led by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the interview showed Washington was embroiled in the conflict despite repeated claims that it was limiting its role to arms supply because he did not want a direct confrontation with Moscow. Read more

“All of this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved rocket attacks against residential areas and civilian infrastructure in populated areas of Donbass and other regions, which have resulted in mass civilian deaths. .”

There was no immediate reaction to the allegations from the White House Department or the Pentagon.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of carrying out devastating missile attacks against civilian targets almost daily. Both sides deny deliberately targeting civilians.

Deliveries of sophisticated long-range weapon systems from Western countries to Ukraine are seen as vital if forces in Kyiv are to turn the tide of the war, in which Russia relies heavily on long-range bombardments from urban areas.

SAFE PASSAGE

Russia’s verbal attack on Washington came after Turkey said the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain since the Russian invasion blocked exports more than five months ago was about to arrive in safely in Istanbul on Tuesday evening.

The ship, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, was sighted in the southern Black Sea off the coast of Turkey, a Reuters witness said, and was expected to enter the Istanbul Strait around 9:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) , said the Turkish Ministry of Defense.

The departure of the Razoni on Monday from the Ukrainian port of Odessa for Lebanon via Turkey under a July 22 safe passage agreement has raised hopes of further such departures, which could help mitigate a growing global food shortage.

Loaded with 26,527 tons of corn, the ship was due to be inspected by Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian and UN officials on Wednesday morning before continuing to its intended final destination, the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

Turkey expects about one grain ship to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports every day as long as the safe passage agreement is maintained, a senior Turkish official, who asked to remain anonymous, said on Tuesday. Read more

The UN has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year due to the war in Ukraine.

Monday’s sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertilizer export deal between Russia and Ukraine – a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has become a war of war. endless wear and tear since Russian troops crossed the border on February 1. 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy called Razoni’s departure a “first positive signal”, but warned it was too early to predict how things would unfold.

“We cannot have any illusions that Russia will simply refrain from trying to disrupt Ukrainian exports,” he said.

For the safe passage agreement to be respected, there are other hurdles to overcome, including clearing sea mines and creating a framework for ships to safely enter the Ukrainian conflict zone and to recover cargo. Read more

Known as the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain stored in silos and 40 million tonnes of the current harvest, initially from Odessa and around Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk, to help clean the silos for the new crop.

Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of laying mines which now float around the Black Sea and pose a hazard to shipping.

Russia called Razoni’s departure “very positive news”. He denied responsibility for the food crisis, saying Western sanctions have slowed his exports.

In addition to those sanctions, the United States on Tuesday targeted Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast who the Treasury Department described as having a close relationship with Putin. Putin denied that they are romantically linked.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Kabaeva heads the National Media Group, a pro-Kremlin group of television, radio and print media organizations. The sanctions also target Publichnoe Aktsionernoe Obschestvo Magnitogorskiy Metallurgicheskiy Kombinat (MMK), one of the world’s largest steel producers, as well as majority shareholder and chairman of the board Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, the Treasury said.

In Moscow, Russia’s top court has designated the Ukrainian Azov regiment as a terror group, a Reuters correspondent said in the courtroom, paving the way for captured soldiers to be tried under strict anti-terror laws and jailed up to 20 years. Read more

The Azov Regiment, which has far-right and ultra-nationalist roots, was one of the most important Ukrainian military formations fighting Russia in eastern Ukraine. Having started as a paramilitary unit to confront pro-Russian separatist rebels in 2014, it was later integrated into Ukraine’s national guard.

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Reports from Reuters offices; written by Andrew Osborn and Mark Heinrich; edited by Angus MacSwan and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.