Ukraine warns of new Russian offensive; Sweden, Finland move closer to joining NATO

Ukraine warns of new Russian offensive; Sweden, Finland move closer to joining NATO

NEW SOUTHERN OFFENSIVE

Ukraine on Wednesday night said Russia was engaged in considerable military activity in the east, northeast and south of the country and warned that Moscow could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine.

Dmytro Zhyvytsky, governor of Sumy region on the border with Russia, said three towns had been shelled by Russian forces on Wednesday, with a total of 55 missiles fired. There were no injuries, but homes and commercial premises were damaged.

He said eight artillery shells hit residential parts of Krasnopilska community.

Reuters was not able to verify battlefield reports.

Russia denies it targets civilians, but many towns and cities have been destroyed and thousands of civilians killed in the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russian forces of war crimes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops in Ukraine in what he said was a “special military operation” to rid the country of fascists. Ukraine and the West said Putin launched an unprovoked “imperial” land grab.

The war has sparked a global energy and food crisis. Russia and Ukraine produce about one third of global wheat and Russia is the main energy supplier to Europe.

An agreement between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, to allow safe passage of grain ships from Ukraine has been hailed as a rare diplomatic success in the war.

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain since the war started passed through the Bosphorus Strait on Wednesday.

The ship, Razoni, left Odesa on the Black Sea early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn to the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

A senior Turkish official said three ships could leave Ukrainian ports daily following the Razoni’s departure, while Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said 17 more ships had been loaded with agricultural produce and were waiting to set sail.

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