- Ukraine strikes Russian base in Black Sea, governor says
- Zelenskiy says grain harvest could be halved by war
- Zelensky orders the evacuation of Donetsk
- Dozens of prisoners of war died in a strike against a prison held by separatists
ODESA, Ukraine, July 31 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Russian-held Sevastopol early on Sunday, the governor of the Crimean port city said, while Ukraine reported heavy Russian attacks on two southern towns.
Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev, quoted by Russian media, reportedly said five staff members were injured in the attack when what was believed to be a drone flew into the courtyard of the headquarters.
The attack coincided with Russian Navy Day, which President Vladimir Putin marked by announcing that the Russian Navy would receive what he called “tremendous” Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles in the coming months. Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound. Read more
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He did not mention Ukraine directly.
Ukrainian authorities said heavy Russian strikes hit the southern towns of Mykolaiv and Nikopol overnight and early Sunday.
Two people were killed and three injured when 12 missiles hit homes and educational institutions, Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told Ukrainian TV, earlier describing the strikes as “probably the most powerful” on the city of the whole war.
Up to 50 Grad rockets hit residential areas in Nikopol on Sunday morning, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. One person was injured.
Reuters could not independently verify reports from the battlefield.
Putin sent tens of thousands of troops across the border on February 24, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands, uprooted millions and caused deep strain in relations between Russia and the ‘West.
Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II has also fueled an energy and food crisis that is rocking the global economy. Ukraine and Russia are the main grain suppliers.
THE HARVEST COULD BE HALVED
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that the country’s harvest could be half its usual volume this year due to the invasion.
“The Ukrainian harvest this year is threatened with being half as much,” suggesting half the usual amount, Zelenskiy wrote in English on Twitter. “Our main objective – to prevent the global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion. Grain always finds a way to be delivered alternatively,” he added.
Ukraine is struggling to get its products to buyers through its Black Sea ports because of the war.
But an agreement signed under the aegis of the UN and Turkey on July 22 provides safe passage for ships carrying grain from three ports in southern Ukraine.
It is highly likely that the first grain export ship will leave Ukrainian ports on Monday, a spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. Read more
In a televised address on Saturday evening, Zelenskiy said hundreds of thousands of people were still at risk of heavy fighting in the Donbass region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces and which Russia is seeking complete control. Slices of Donbass were held before the invasion by Russian-backed separatists.
“Many refuse to leave but it still needs to be done,” Zelenskiy said. “The more people who leave the Donetsk region now, the less the Russian army will have time to kill.”
Russia on Sunday invited UN and Red Cross experts to investigate the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Ukraine and Russia have swapped accusations over a missile strike or explosion early on Friday that appears to have killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the frontline town of Olenivka in eastern Donetsk.
Russia has invited UN and Red Cross experts to investigate the deaths “in the interest of conducting an objective investigation”, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
The ministry had released a list of 50 Ukrainian POWs killed and 73 wounded in what it said was a Ukrainian military attack with a US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Ukraine’s armed forces have denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery attacked the prison to hide the mistreatment there.
Reuters reporters confirmed some of the deaths at the prison, but could not immediately verify the different versions of events.
The UN had said it was ready to send experts to investigate if it got the consent of both sides. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was seeking access and had offered to help evacuate the injured.
Russia denies that its forces deliberately attacked civilians or committed war crimes during the invasion, which it calls a “special operation”.
The Ukrainian army said on Saturday that more than 100 Russian soldiers had been killed and seven tanks destroyed in the south on Friday, including the Kherson region which is at the center of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in this part of the country and a link key to Moscow’s supply lines.
Rail traffic to Kherson via the Dnipro River has been cut off, the Southern Military Command said, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and to the east.
Ukraine has used long-range missile systems supplied by the West to severely damage three bridges over the Dnipro in recent weeks, cutting off the city of Kherson and – in the assessment of British officials – leaving the Russian 49th Army very vulnerable on the west bank of the river.
Officials of the Russian-appointed administration that rules the Kherson region earlier this week dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.
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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing for Lincoln Feast and William Maclean Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry
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