Pope Francis appealed Sunday to Russia to revive the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal allowing Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports. The deal expired July 17. Addressing crowds in St. Peter's Square, the pope urged the faithful to continue praying "for martyred Ukraine, where war is destroying everything, even grain," calling this "a grave insult to God." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday he expects Russia to resume its attacks on Ukraine's power grid next winter and pledged to do everything possible to protect his nation's power infrastructure.
Saudi Arabia will soon host a summit to discuss implementation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan to end the war Russia launched last year.
The head of Zelenskyy’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said the summit would bring together national security advisers for talks that follow an initial round held in Copenhagen in June. Yermak said Ukraine is “working hard to involve as many partners as possible from both the West and the Global South.”
Yermak did not confirm a date for the summit, but The Wall Street Journal reported it would take place August 5-6 and involve 30 countries. The Associated Press cited officials saying the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa would participate.
“The Ukrainian Peace Formula contains 10 fundamental points, the implementation of which will not only ensure peace for Ukraine, but also create mechanisms to counter future conflicts in the world,” Yermak said in a statement. “We are deeply convinced that the Ukrainian peace plan should be taken as a basis, because the war is taking place on our land.”
African leaders to get grain
African leaders left Russia after a two-day Russia-Africa summit with no resolution on the resumption of the deal that allowed for the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea corridor.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that higher grain prices, which have risen since Moscow’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, will benefit Russian companies as well as the world’s poorest countries.
In his effort to woo African leaders, Putin said during a news conference Saturday in St. Petersburg that Russia will share its profits from rising grain prices with African nations and poor countries. Russia, like Ukraine, is a major grain exporter.
That commitment, with no details, follows Putin’s promise to start shipping 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain for free to each of six African nations in the next three to four months — an amount dwarfed by the 725,000 tons shipped by the United Nations World Food Program to several hungry countries, African and otherwise, under the grain deal. Russia plans to send the free grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and the Central African Republic.
Fewer than 20 of Africa’s 54 heads of state or government attended the Russia summit compared to 43 who attended the previous gathering in 2019.
A Russian missile attack killed at least one person and injured five in the Ukrainian city of Sumy, National Police said Sunday.
The strike by Russian forces hit “an educational facility,” spokesperson Maryna Polosina said.
A video released by Ukrainian police showed injured people being carried away from the scene as smoke rose from a damaged building nearby.
Moscow said Sunday that Russian forces thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to attack Crimea with 25 drones overnight.
“Sixteen Ukrainian UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were destroyed by air defense fire,” the Russian defense ministry said. “There were no victims.”
Ukrainian drones attacked Moscow early Sunday, but there were no casualties, the Tass news agency reported, citing city Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
“Tonight, there was a Ukrainian drone attack. The facades of two office buildings in Moscow City (business district) were slightly damaged. There are no casualties,” Sobyanin said on his Telegram channel.
The Russian defense ministry said it downed three drones targeting the city and described the incident as an “attempted terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime.”
A security guard was injured, Tass reported, citing emergency officials.
The Vnukovo airport on the outskirts of the city suspended flights for about an hour, according to Tass, and the airspace over and around Moscow was temporarily closed.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters