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Live blog: Türkiye is working to renew Black Sea grain deal – Cavusoglu

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that Ankara is working hard to extend the initiative that has enabled Ukraine to export grain, which was paused after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began last February.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by Türkiye and the United Nations last July allowed grain to be exported from three Ukrainian ports.

The agreement was extended in November and will expire on March 18 unless an extension is agreed upon.

“We are working hard for the smooth implementation and further extension of the Black Sea grain deal,” Cavusoglu said in a speech at the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries being held in Doha, Qatar.

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1806 GMT — Russian shelling hits Ukrainian town; Bakhmut battle rages 

Russian shelling destroyed homes and killed one person in northern Ukraine’s Kharkiv province, the region’s governor has said, while fighting raged in the fiercely contested eastern city of Bakhmut. 

The town of Kupiansk is about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Russian border; the region has come under frequent attacks even though Russian ground forces withdrew from the area nearly six months ago. 

Governor Oleh Syniehubov said at least five homes were razed in the latest attack that left a 65-year-old man dead.

1648 GMT — Serbia not supplying weapons to Russia or Ukraine: Vucic 

Serbia is not supplying weapons or ammunition to either Ukraine or Russia, the country’s president has said. 

“This is a blatant lie. Serbia did not send weapons to anyone. We have factories where we manufacture weapons, but we did not sell either weapons or munitions to Ukraine or Russia. We are clean about it,” Aleksandar Vucic told journalists in Doha.

Serbia adheres to international laws, he added.

1550 GMT — Kiev says Russia pursuing ‘attempts to encircle’ Bakhmut 

Kiev has said it is holding off attacks from Russian troops still attempting to surround Bakhmut, a now-destroyed eastern Ukrainian city that Moscow has been trying to capture for months. 

Ukraine has vowed to defend “fortress Bakhmut” but has faced Russian troops determined to take the city which has turned into a political prize as the battle drags on. 

The Ukrainian general staff said “more than 130 enemy attacks” had been repelled over the previous day including in Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut and Avdiivka. 

“The enemy continues its attempts to encircle the town of Bakhmut,” it said. 

1240 GMT — Saudi Arabia sends new aid plane to Ukraine 

Saudi Arabia has sent a new plane loaded with humanitarian aid to Ukraine amid Russia’s war on the European country. 

The plane dispatched by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center arrived at Rzeszow Airport in Poland carrying 30 tonnes of aid, the state news agency SPA reported. 

The shipment “includes shelter materials, electric generators, and medical supplies,” SPA said. 

The aid plane is the third to have been sent by the oil -rich kingdom to Ukraine this week. 

1227 GMT — Russian army says it hit Azov Regiment command centre in Ukraine 

The Russian army hit a command centre of the Ukrainian forces’ Azov Regiment in southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, the Russian Defence Ministry has said. 

The ministry did not elaborate on the attack, in its daily update on what Moscow terms the “special military operation” in Ukraine. 

The Azov Regiment, which had far-right and ultra-nationalist origins and is now a unit of Ukraine’s national guard, garnered international attention for its resistance to the Russian siege of Mariupol’s vast steelworks last year. 

1156 GMT — Woman and two children killed in Russian shelling in southern Ukraine 

A woman and two children were killed in Russian mortar shelling of a village in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office has said. 

“Mortar shelling of Poniativka village in Kherson region. A private house was hit,” Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app. 

“Russian terrorists continue to kill civilians,” he said, providing no additional details of the attack. 

0843 GMT — Death toll from Russian missile strike in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia rises

The death toll from a Russian missile strike in southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region rose to 13, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.

A five-storey building in Zaporizhzhia was hit by a Russian missile this week, while “debris and the blast wave damaged high-rises located nearby, as well as vehicles of residents,” a statement by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said following the attack.

“State Emergency Service of Ukraine (DSNS) personnel, with 60 rescuers and 13 equipment, rescued 11 people, as well as four cats and a dog, while 101 employees from various services and 23 pieces of equipment are involved in search and rescue work at the building targeted,” a statement by DSNS said on Telegram.

0821 GMT — Russian lawmaker says US forcing European states to finance Ukraine against well-being of citizens 

The US is forcing European states to finance Ukraine against the well-being of their own citizens, the head of the Russian State Duma said.

“The US is forcing the states of Europe to finance the Kiev regime at the cost of the well-being of their own citizens. But, as it turns out, they bear costs much less than others,” Vyacheslav Volodin said on Telegram. 

Volodin noted that, in terms of spending, the US utilises 0.37 percent of the share of its GDP, which he said is 5.7 times less than Poland’s.

0323 GMT — Russian minority shuns Estonia’s vote over Ukraine support 

Put off by the Estonian government’s hawkish stance on Russia, many Russian speakers are expected to stay away from elections even though they oppose the war in Ukraine. 

“A very big part of the Russian-speaking population of Estonia has definitely kept strong ties to Russia,” said Rein Toomla, a political expert from the Johan Skytte Institute. 

“They experience painfully Estonia’s and the rest of the democratic world’s current policy towards Russia,” he said. 

0305 GMT — Ukrainian pilot pair in Arizona to fly military simulators: US officials 

Two Ukrainian pilots are in Arizona to fly flight simulators and be evaluated by the US military, two US officials said, as Washington remains mute on whether it will send fighter jets or sophisticated remotely piloted drones to Kiev. 

The Arizona “familiarisation event” is a first and will facilitate dialogue between Ukrainian and US personnel and provide an opportunity to observe how the US Air Force operates, a US defence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

“This event allows us to better help Ukrainian pilots become more effective pilots and better advise them on how to develop their own capabilities,” the defence official said. 

0015 GMT — Ukraine says Russia is failing to encircle Bakhmut

The Ukraine armed forces’ general staff has said that Russian troops were trying but failing to surround eastern Bakhmut, adding defenders had repelled numerous attacks in and around the city.

The battle has raged for seven months. A Russian victory in the city, which had a pre-war population of about 70,000 and has been blasted to ruins in the onslaught, would give Moscow the first major prize in a costly winter offensive.

Oleh Zhdanov, a prominent Ukrainian analyst of military affairs, said that he could not detect any immediate signs Kiev was going to order a retreat from the city.

“At the moment the situation is more or less stabilised. In terms of the advancement of Russian troops, we practically stopped (it),” he said in a YouTube interview.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has described Bakhmut as a “fortress”, thanked defenders in the city in a fresh video message but gave no details of the fighting.

For our live updates from Saturday (March 4), click here.

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