Ukraine optimistic about exports as ships begin to pass through estuary

Ukraine has revived hopes for more grain exports despite Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports, noting that ships have begun to pass through the important Danube estuary.
“Over the past four days, 16 ships have passed through the mouth of the Bystra River,” Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yury Vaskov said.
“We plan to keep this pace.”
The ministry said 16 ships are waiting to load Ukrainian grain for export to foreign markets, and more than 90 ships are waiting in line in the Romanian Sulina Canal.

According to him, only four ships could be received along the Sulina route per day, and eight were needed per day.

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If such conditions are met, and with the opening of Bystry, Ukraine expects the congestion of ships to stop within a week, and monthly grain exports could increase by 500,000 tons, he said.
Prior to the Russian invasion, seaports accounted for about 80 percent of Ukraine’s agricultural exports, but currently food exports are limited to Danube ports and railways and roads to the west, according to the ministry.

According to the United Nations, Ukraine is one of the five largest grain producing countries in the world and supplies the world market with more than 45 million tons of grain per year.

Ukraine seeks to return territories

On the battlefield, Ukraine said on Tuesday it had carried out a long-range missile strike against Russian forces and military equipment in southern territory. It says it plans to fight off a counteroffensive using hundreds of thousands of troops.
As a result of a strike on an ammunition depot in the city of Novaya Kakhovka, Kherson region, 52 people were killed, the Ukrainian military said.

The city’s Russian-installed authorities presented a different version of events.

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The official said Ukraine used US-supplied HIMARS missiles and destroyed stockpiles containing saltpeter, a chemical compound that can be used to make fertilizer or gunpowder.
“There are still a lot of people under the rubble. The wounded are taken to hospitals, but many people are locked in their apartments and houses,” Vladimir Leontyev, head of the Kakhovka district military-civilian administration, was quoted as saying. This is reported by the Russian news agency TASS.
According to him, warehouses, shops, a pharmacy, gas stations and a church suffered.
According to TASS, as a result of the attack, seven people were killed and about 70 were injured.

The area hit by Ukraine is strategically important due to its access to the Black Sea, a once-thriving agricultural industry, and its location north of Russia-annexed Crimea.

Ukrainian government officials spoke of efforts to mobilize up to a million troops and of their goal to retake the southern parts of the country now under Russian control.
Russia has accused Ukraine of shelling its own people in territory over which it has lost control.
Ukraine says it is evacuating as many people as possible from areas captured by Russian forces, in what it and the West are calling Moscow’s imperial-style land grab.

Kyiv and the West say Russia’s own strikes were indiscriminate, killing civilians and leveling city blocks to the ground.

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Moscow denies it has targeted civilians, but many Ukrainian communities have been left in ruins as the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II approaches the five-month mark.

The UN Human Rights Office said on Tuesday that 5,024 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the invasion began, adding that real losses are likely much higher.

Preparing for a new Russian offensive

Russia has tried to introduce the ruble in Kherson and is offering Russian passports to the locals.
Russian officials say they also plan to hold a referendum on joining the region to Russia, but have not set a date yet.

Ukraine is itself preparing for what it expects to be a massive new Russian offensive in the east, where Moscow says it is determined to take control of the entire industrial region of Donbass.

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Russian forces, which completed their takeover of Luhansk Oblast in Donbas earlier this month, have been shelling parts of neighboring Donetsk Oblast for weeks.
The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavel Kirilenko, announced a significant buildup of Russian troops, especially in the Bakhmut and Seversky districts, as well as around Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

According to him, the entire front line in the region was under constant fire, as Russian troops tried to break through, but were repulsed.