Live: Three Ukrainian ports resume grain exports with convoy of ships
Three Ukrainian Black Sea ports resumed grain exports Wednesday following the opening of a joint coordination centre in Turkey to ensure its safe passage, under a UN-backed deal aimed at releasing 25 million tonnes of cereals stuck in Ukraine. Russian energy giant Gazprom drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline to about 20 percent of its capacity, German authorities said. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
7:31pm: ‘Eyes of the world’ on grain coordination centre, says Turkish defence minister
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said “the eyes of the world are upon” staff manning the joint coordination centre for Ukrainian grain exports, which opened in Istanbul on Wednesday.
Some 20 personnel will monitor ships transporting grain between three Ukrainian ports to ensure they have safe passage through the Black Sea and that the new transport corridor does not enable war efforts for Ukraine or Russia.
The personnel includes Ukrainians, Russians, Turks and UN officials.
“In the past we’ve heard reports of Russians and Ukrainians boycotting each other at negotiations,” said FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer, reporting from Turkey. More recent reports suggest staff are cooperating.
5:51pm: Germany accuses Russia of ‘power play’ over reduced gas supply
A senior manager at Russia’s Gazprom said on Wednesday that the company was still awaiting the return of a Siemens Energy turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, blaming the German company for the delay.
Siemens Energy said it was up to Gazprom to supply the required customs papers for the return of the turbine after servicing in Canada.
Russia has cited turbine problems as its reason for cutting gas supply via Nord Stream 1 – its main gas link to Europe – to just 20 percent of capacity from Wednesday.
The German government has strongly refuted the claim from Russia. “This is a power play,” said a spokesperson Wednesday, saying Berlin saw no reason for Russia not to accept the return of a repaired turbine for the pipeline.
4:42pm: Macron in Benin says Russia ‘one of last imperial colonial powers’
French President Emmanuel Macron on a visit to Benin Wednesday branded Russia “one of the last imperial colonial powers” for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine. It’s a territorial war the likes of which we thought had disappeared from European soil,” Macron said on the second leg of a trip to west Africa to reset France’s relations with the continent, where many nations are former French colonies.
“I speak on a continent that has suffered colonial imperialism. Russia is one of the last imperial colonial powers,” he said at a press conference with Beninese President Patrice Talon.
2:47pm: France could provide Germany with gas in case of shortage, say ministry officials
France could provide Germany 20 terawatt hours of gas, or 2 percent of German consumption, during winter months if needed in the context of war in Ukraine, French energy ministry officials said on Wednesday.
A standoff between Europe and Moscow since the Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas and sparked a frantic search for alternative energy sources.
Germany, Europe’s top economy and its largest importer of Russian gas, has been particularly hit by supply cuts since mid-June and is preparing for all scenarios including a complete stop to Russian gas supplies.
>> Germany has ‘homework’ to do on gas demand cuts to preserve EU unity
2:00pm: Ukraine’s navy confirms work under way at Black Sea ports to prepare for grain exports
Ukraine‘s navy confirmed on Wednesday that work had started at three Ukrainian Black Sea ports aimed at preparing for the resumption of grain exports.
“In connection with the signing of the agreement on the unblocking (by Russia) of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain, work has been resumed in the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdeny,” the navy said on Facebook.
“The departure and arrival of ships to seaports will be carried out by forming a caravan that will accompany the lead ship.”
Reporting from Istanbul, FRANCE 24’s Shona Bhattacharyya said: “Those boats could take between 36 and 48 hours to arrive. Precious hours before the flow of Ukrainian grain once again reaches the global market.”
1:27pm: Joint centre for Ukraine grain exports opens in Istanbul
Turkey on Wednesday formally opened a joint coordination centre for Ukrainian grain exports under a UN-backed deal aimed at resuming shipments for the first time since Russia’s February invasion of its neighbour.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar unveiled the centre at a ceremony held five days after Moscow and Kyiv put their names on a deal designed to deliver wheat and other grain across the Black Sea from three designated Ukrainian ports.
The centre will be staffed by civilian and military officials from the two warring parties and delegates from Turkey and the UN.
Their primary assignment involves monitoring the safe passage of Ukrainian grain ships along established routes and overseeing their inspection for banned weapons on the way into and out of the Black Sea.
1:09pm: Ukraine says operations resume at ports designated for grain export
Kyiv said Wednesday that work had resumed at three Black Sea ports designated under a recent deal with Russia to resume cereals’ exports that have been blocked by Russia’s invasion.
“In connection with the signing of the agreement on the unblocking of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain, work has resumed in the ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Pivdennyi,” the Ukrainian navy said in a statement on social media.
Kyiv and Moscow last week agreed a mechanism with the help of Turkey and the United Nations to allow blocked Ukrainian grain to be exported from the three ports.
12:21am: Ukrainian parliament approves appointment of new prosecutor general
Ukrainian parliament approved the appointment of lawmaker Andriy Kostin as the country’s prosecutor general on Wednesday, the prosecutor general’s office said.
Some 299 deputies in the 450-seat parliament endorsed Kostin’s appointment, it said on the Telegram messaging app.
Kostin is a member of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party. The president had earlier nominated Kostin to replace Iryna Venediktova, who was removed as prosecutor general earlier this month.
11:50am: Russia vows to hinder work of Western media after RT France ban
The Kremlin on Wednesday vowed to hinder work of Western media in Russia after a European court upheld a broadcast ban imposed on Russian news channel RT France.
“Of course, we will take similar measures of pressure on Western media that operate in our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“We will also not let them work in our country,” he said, describing the Kremlin’s reaction to the ban as “extremely negative”.
11:24am: European court upholds broadcasting ban on Russia’s RT France
A European court on Wednesday upheld a broadcast ban imposed on Russian news channel RT France as part of EU sanctions slapped on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg issued a judgement throwing out an appeal from state-owned outlet RT against the ban, which the EU imposed in March over accusations that the network spreads disinformation.
10:53am: Strike on hotel in east Ukraine kills at least one
At least one person was killed by a Russian strike on a Ukrainian hotel in the Donetsk region town of Bakhmut on Wednesday, local authorities said.
“According to preliminary information, there are dead and wounded, a rescue operation is underway,” local Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Facebook. The local emergency service said a toll of one dead and four wounded had been confirmed so far.
9:47am: Ukraine forces strike key bridge in Russian-occupied south
Ukrainian troops have struck a strategic bridge essential for Moscow to supply its forces occupying the country’s south, as Russia pounded several areas in Ukraine with rocket and artillery strikes.
The Ukrainian military struck the Antonivskyi Bridge across the Dnieper River late Tuesday, the deputy head of the Moscow-appointed administration for the Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, said.
He said the bridge was still standing but its deck was pierced with holes, stopping vehicles from crossing.
The 1.4-kilometer (0.9-mile) bridge sustained serious damage in Ukrainian shelling last week, when it took multiple hits. It was closed for trucks but had remained open for passenger vehicles until the strike late Tuesday.
8:55am: Russian mercenary group Wagner made tactical advances in Donbas, says UK intelligence
Russian private mercenary group Wagner has likely made tactical advances in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, British military intelligence said on Wednesday.
The advances were made around the Vuhlehirska Power Plant and the nearby village of Novoluhanske, the ministry of defence said on Twitter, adding that some Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from the area.
7:29am: Gazprom slashes Nord Stream gas deliveries to Europe
Russian energy giant Gazprom drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to about 20 percent of its capacity, German authorities said.
The Russian state-run company had announced Monday that it would choke supply to 33 million cubic metres a day — half the amount it has been delivering since service resumed last week after 10 days of maintenance work.
7:16am: EU agrees to cut gas consumption amid Russian supply fears
European Union governments agreed Tuesday to reduce consumption of natural gas this winter to protect themselves against any further supply cuts by Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine, although the measure contains exemptions for some countries.
“European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was trying to portray this as a moment of great unity today but behind the scenes there was a lot of disunity”, reports David Keating, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Brussels.
6:44am: Yellen discusses price cap on Russian oil with UK’s Zahawi
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen considered a proposed price cap on Russian oil on a phone call with British Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi on Tuesday, a move to reduce the impact of the war in Ukraine on global energy prices.
(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AP and AFP)