Ukraine war live updates: Kyiv, Moscow ramp up rhetoric on ships; Russia continues to attack Ukraine ports

Ukraine says it may class Russia-bound ships as carriers of military cargo

The Turkish bulk carrier TQ SAMSUN, loaded with Ukrainian agricultural products as part of the Grain Initiative, leaves the Port of Odesa, southern Ukraine.

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Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said Kyiv may categorize ships traveling towards Russian ports via the Black Sea, including occupied areas of Ukraine, as potential carriers of military equipment from midnight Friday.

“The Kremlin has turned the Black Sea into a danger zone, primarily for Russian ships and ships heading in the waters of the Black Sea in the direction of seaports of the Russian Federation and Ukrainian seaports located on the territory of Ukraine temporarily occupied by Russia,” the Ukrainian ministry of defense said, according to a Google translation.

It comes a day after Russia said it would do the same for all vessels sailing on the Black Sea toward Ukrainian ports, which it would consider involved in the conflict.

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a humanitarian corridor allowing the export of Ukrainian grain, on Monday. Wheat and corn futures have since risen sharply amid concerns of global shortages.

— Jenni Reid

One killed in Russian overnight attack at Mykolaiv port

A person was killed in Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian port Mykolaiv, a Ukrainian official told Ukraine’s state news agency Ukrinform.

“The rescuers have recovered the man’s body from under the rubble. Now they are looking for one more person,” said Iliana Patsiuk, the spokesperson for the State Emergency Service’s main office in the Mykolaiv region.

Earlier, Vitaly Kim, head of the Mykolaiv Regional Military Administration, estimated that 19 individuals had been injured in an overnight Russian offensive. He later said on Telegram that “unfortunately, there are wounded and dead,” without specifying numbers.

Mykolaiv and Odesa have been under Russian fire in recent days, in retaliation for what Moscow described as Ukraine’s “terrorist attack” on the Crimean bridge.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russia FM to join BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting online in July, in person in August

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Russia at the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Jakarta on July 13, 2023.

Adi Weda | Afp | Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will participate online in a BRICS meeting on Thursday, then join in person during the coalition’s August gathering, a spokesperson confirmed.

The next meeting between the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is scheduled for 22-24 August. It generated furious speculation over the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s in-person attendance, given the International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest.

Putin on Wednesday confirmed he would not go in person, with Russia’s Tass news agency now reporting the Russian head of state will attend all sessions of the August leaders’ meeting virtually, according to a Google translation.

— Jenni Reid

Germany and allies intensifying efforts to get grain out of Ukraine by rail, German FM says

Germany and Ukraine’s international allies are ramping up efforts to get grain exports from Ukraine by rail, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Brussels, in comments reported by Reuters.

“Hundreds of thousands of people, not to say millions, urgently need the grain from Ukraine, which is why we are working with all our international partners so that the grain in Ukraine does not rot in silos in the next few weeks, but reaches the people of the world who urgently need it,” Baerbock said.

Ukraine’s grain exports are at the forefront of international attention, after Russia withdrew from an agreement allowing such seaborne deliveries earlier this week.

— Jenni Reid

Wheat futures keep rising amid Ukraine export concerns

Wheat futures continued to rise Thursday after Russia fired weapons at Ukrainian port cities and storage infrastructure for a third day in the wake of its withdrawal from negotiations over a Black Sea export deal.

Chicago wheat contracts with September expiry were up 2.65% to a just over three-week high at 9:44 a.m. London time, after an 8% spike Wednesday.

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Wheat futures September expiry.

Wagner to carry out drills with Belarusian army on Belarusian-Polish border

Forces of Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which formerly served the Kremlin in its hostilities in Ukraine, will carry out combat exercises alongside Belarus’ army troops, Russian state news agency Tass said in a Google-translated report that cited Belarus’ Defense Ministry.

The drills will take place at one of Minsk’s military bases near Brest on the Belarusian-Polish border.

Part of Wagner’s forces took refuge in Belarus after the failed insurrection of their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, against Moscow in June. Minsk offered Wagner fighters sanctuary, but has yet to disclose how many such mercenaries it is hosting.

Ruxandra Iordache

EU’s Borrell accuses Russia of endangering global food security

“What we already know is that this is going to create a big and huge food crisis in the world,” Borrell said, ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting.

Nicolas Maeterlinck | Afp | Getty Images

Russia’s Monday decision to pull out of a pact on Ukrainian grain exports imperils global food security, EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell said Thursday, according to Reuters.

“What we already know is that this is going to create a big and huge food crisis in the world,” Borrell said, ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting. He also echoed Ukraine in accusing Russia of deliberately targeting grain storage sites at the major embattled port hub of Odesa, which Moscow has been striking in recent days.

On Monday, Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had, for nearly a year, allowed a humanitarian corridor for the export of Ukrainian grains into global markets during war time.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Ruxandra Iordache

At least 19 injured in Mykolaiv, two in Odesa

At least 19 people were injured after Russian aerial attacks against the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, regional military administration head Vitaly Kim said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

“As a result of the impact, several floors of a three-story building were destroyed and a fire with an area of ​​450 square meters broke out,” he said. “In total, 19 people were injured as a result of the rocket attack. Eight people sought medical help – two were hospitalized, including a child.”

Ukraine’s air force on Telegram said that Russian troops once more struck the southern regions of Ukraine, hitting Mykolaiv and fellow port Odesa on the night of July 20, according to a Google translation. Russia has targeted both hubs in its offensives in recent days, following what Moscow calls a “terrorist attack” against the Crimean bridge.

Oleh Kiper of the Odesa administration said two people were hospitalized as a result of the latest hostilities, in Google-translated comments on Telegram.

— Ruxandra Iordache

Ukraine says Odesa and Mykolaiv hit by Russian missiles overnight

Russian strikes on Ukrainian port cities continued overnight, Ukraine’s air force said on the Telegram messaging app, according to a Google translation.

Russia fired 19 missiles and 19 drones, some of which hit ports, residential buildings and shopping areas in Odesa and Mykolaiv, the air force said. It said it shot down two sea-based cruise missiles, three surface-based cruise missiles and 13 Shahed drones.

It is the third consecutive night of strikes, according to Ukrainian officials.

— Jenni Reid

Russia says all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports will be considered military cargo carriers

An aerial view of a dry cargo ship transporting grain from Ukraine under the U.N.-brokered Black Sea deal.

Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on its official Telegram channel that all vessels sailing toward Ukrainian ports will be considered military cargo carriers.

The announcement follows Moscow’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a maritime humanitarian corridor used for agricultural exports.

Russia’s military also said that all vessels transiting this waterway “will be considered to be involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime.”

— Amanda Macias

Russian attack on Odesa port destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, agriculture minister says

Farmers use harvesting vehicles to harvest grain in Stavropol Krai, one of Russia’s most important agricultural lands is seen in Stavropol, Russia on July 16, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s missile and drone attack on Ukraine’s southern port of Odesa and the surrounding area over the last two days destroyed 60,000 tons of grain as well as crucial infrastructure, Ukraine’s minister of agriculture said Wednesday.

“The night-time attack put a considerable part of the grain export infrastructure in the port of Chornomorsk out of operation,” Mykola Solsky said via the Telegram app, according to a Google translation.

The port of Chornomorsk, in the Odesa region, has been a key port for the export of Ukraine’s grain and other agricultural products like corn and sunflower seeds. Before the war, Ukraine and Russia together accounted for 25% of the world’s grain exports.

The two days of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s ports immediately followed Russia’s withdrawal from a U.N.-brokered grain deal that allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian export ships out of the Black Sea. They also followed an explosion on Crimea’s Kerch Bridge that Moscow blames on Kyiv, though Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for it.

The U.N. and Western and Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of essentially attacking all those who rely on Ukraine’s grain exports, and of risking a hunger crisis. A large portion of Ukrainian grain and food products go to the Middle East and Africa.

— Natasha Turak

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:


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