New developments:

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed “ways to stop Russian aggression” in talks with Chinese envoy Li Hui, Ukraine says.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian shelling killed a 5-year-old boy in Kherson.

Group of Seven leaders convening in Hiroshima, Japan, later this week are set to engage with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the White House said.

“We are anticipating some kind of engagement between G-7 leaders and President Zelenskyy,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Anchorage, Alaska, en route to Japan. “The parameters of that are still being worked through.”

More than a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, the G-7 meeting will focus on supporting Kyiv’s defense and ratcheting up economic pressure on Russia. Sullivan said the summit will focus on sanctions implementation and enforcement, shutting down evasion networks and closing loopholes.

“The U.S. will have a package of sanctions associated with a G-7 statement that will center on this enforcement issue,” he said.

Missile attacks

Ukrainian officials reported Russian missile attacks Thursday targeting the capital, Kyiv, as well as the Odesa region in southern Ukraine.

Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa military administration, said on Telegram that Ukrainian air defenses shot down most of the Russian missiles, but that one hit an industrial facility, killing one person and injuring two others.

In Kyiv, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, Serhiy Popko, said Ukrainian forces shot down all of the Russian missiles directed at the region.  Popko said falling debris set off fires in several areas around Kyiv.

Grain deal

Russia and Ukraine agreed Wednesday to a two-month extension, until July 18, of their pact allowing grain shipments from Ukrainian ports through the Russian-controlled Black Sea to global markets to ease world food shortages.

The extension had been in question until an 11th hour agreement was brokered in Istanbul by Turkey and the United Nations. Turkey and the U.N. both have played key roles in earlier agreements that have allowed more than 30 million tons of corn, wheat and other produce to be shipped since last year despite nearly 15 months of fighting after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the agreement, saying, “The importance of the Black Sea Initiative — and the parallel Memorandum of Understanding between the U.N. and the Russian Federation — is clear. These agreements matter for global food security. Ukrainian and Russian products feed the world.”

He said that “vital food supplies are reaching some of the world’s most vulnerable people and places — including 30,000 tons of wheat that just left Ukraine aboard a [World Food Program]-chartered ship to feed hungry people in Sudan.”

He said the shipments “matter because we are still in the throes of a record-breaking cost-of-living crisis,” while acknowledging that global food “markets have stabilized, volatility has been reduced and we have seen global food prices fall by 20%.”

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said he was grateful to the U.N. and Turkey “for efforts in strengthening food security. Main challenge now is to make [the grain shipments] efficient by cancellation [of] artificial barriers,” which he did not spell out.

Several times over the past year, Russia has threatened to withdraw from the grain shipment pact, or has briefly done so, arguing that provisions allowing its own agricultural products and fertilizers to be shipped to world markets are not being fulfilled.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has complained that Russia has stalled the deal by preventing required inspections of shipments and refusing to approve the use of more vessels.

Russian confirmed the two-month extension of the pact, but a Russia Foreign Ministry spokesperson suggested that Russia’s complaints about the deal had still not been addressed. “The distortions in the implementation of the deal should be corrected as quickly as possible,” she said.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.