Ukraine latest: Shoigu says Russia has no need for nuclear weapons in Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties mounting on both sides.

Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance using Western military aid, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.

Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

Indonesia’s Arsari ships grain from Ukraine, Russia

Russian sanctions threaten to make coal dirtier, more costly

Russia readies new Sakhalin-2 operator, putting Japan’s stake on the line

Russian military relies on Western, Asian tech components: study

All my friends are gone: A young Ukrainian in Kharkiv

Note: Nikkei Asia decided on March 5 to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Tuesday, Aug. 16 (Tokyo time)

5:30 p.m. Russia has no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says during a speech at the Moscow international security conference, also alleging that Ukrainian military operations are being planned by the United States and Britain, and that NATO has increased its troop deployment in Eastern and Central Europe “several times over.” Referring to the New START Treaty, Shoigu says talks to extend the treaty are “a two-way street” and that the situation around the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control treaty is “not easy.”

2:54 p.m. Britain says that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is struggling to exercise effective sea control, with patrols generally limited to the waters within sight of the Crimean coast. The Black Sea Fleet continues to use long-range cruise missiles to support ground offensives, but is keeping a defensive posture, the British Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter. The Black Sea Fleet’s currently limited effectiveness undermines Russia’s overall invasion strategy, in part because the amphibious threat to Odesa has now been largely neutralized, the intelligence update added.

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, on Aug. 4.

  © Reuters

9:30 a.m. Ukraine called for new sanctions on Russia and highlighted the consequences of any catastrophe at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, where fresh shelling nearby has renewed a blame game between both sides. The world nuclear watchdog has said the world risks a disaster if the fighting does not stop. Ukrainian and Russian-installed officials have traded accusations over who is responsible for attacks close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. “If through Russia’s actions a catastrophe occurs the consequences could hit those who for the moment are silent,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a late Monday-night address. “If now the world does not show strength and decisiveness to defend one nuclear power station, it will mean that the world has lost.”

4:00 a.m. The United Nations rejects accusations by Russian officials that the U.N. Secretariat canceled or blocked a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. Russian forces have surrounded the plant, Europe’s biggest nuclear power station.

The IAEA has full independence in exercising its mandate, and the U.N. Secretariat lacks authority to block or cancel any IAEA activities, says Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general. The U.N. believes it has the logistics and security capacity in Ukraine to support any IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia plant from Kyiv, should both Russia and Ukraine agree.

1:56 a.m. Russia is ready to sell advanced weapons to allies in Latin America, Asia and Africa as well as cooperate in developing military technology, President Vladimir Putin says, offering armored vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft, drones and high-precision weapons.

Putin tells an international arms expo in Russia that Russian weapons are “superior.” He claims that Russian forces are making gradual progress in their offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region — which Moscow claims it is trying to “liberate” — despite Western analysis showing that the invasion of Ukraine as been slow and resulted in heavy losses for Russia’s military.

Russia ranks second only to the U.S. with arms sales of around $15 billion a year, nearly one-fifth of the global export market, but most of these went to just four countries — India, China, Egypt and Algeria — the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports.

1:54 a.m. Bayer says it will “continue supplying Russian farmers with essential agricultural products to ensure they can contribute to fulfilling the global demand.”

“We share the view of the UN that global access to Ukraine’s food products and Russian food and fertilizers is essential to alleviate pressure on the global food system,” the German drug and agrochemical company says in a statement condemning the invasion. “At the same time, we hope the Russian government continues to safeguard the free flow of agricultural products and never again use food as a means of pressuring the world,” it says.

Monday, Aug. 15

9:14 p.m. Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding, the investment company controlled by billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, quietly invested more than $500 million in three major Russian energy companies between February and March, regulatory filings have shown. By investing in Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil, Kingdom was likely buying up undervalued assets. The investments occurred as Western nations imposed sanctions on Russian energy companies and their executives following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have so far tried to maintain what they say is a neutral position on the war in Ukraine, frustrating some Western officials who seek to to isolate Russia over the invasion.

Former Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, began discussing a U.S. offer to sell Boeing CH-47 Chinooks as early as last year.

5:30 p.m. Philippine officials are considering a U.S. offer to provide heavy-lift helicopters like the widely used Chinook now that Manila has scrapped a deal to buy military choppers from Russia due to fears of Western sanctions, the Philippine ambassador to Washington says. Then-President Rodrigo Duterte approved the cancellation of the signed deal to buy 16 Russian Mi-17 helicopters due to concerns over possible Western sanctions, which could hamper the ability of Filipinos abroad to quickly wire money home, Ambassador Jose Romualdez said. A U.S. offer to sell Boeing CH-47 Chinooks was discussed as early as last year by former Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, in Washington, even before Duterte was persuaded by key cabinet members to cancel the deal, Romualdez said.

10:30 a.m. Ukrainian forces report heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk, which has become a key focus of the nearly six-month war, but say they have repelled many of the attacks. The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front — particularly the Kherson region, which is mainly controlled by Russian forces but where Ukrainian troops are steadily capturing territory.

The Brave Commander on Aug. 14 docks at the port of Pivdennyi, Ukraine, as it loads wheat it will carry to Ethiopia.

  © Reuters

2:00 a.m. A U.N.-chartered ship loaded with 23,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain destined for Ethiopia set sail on Sunday from a Black Sea port, the first shipment of its kind in a program to assist countries facing famine. The Brave Commander departed from the Ukrainian port of Yuzhne, east of Odesa, according to regional Gov. Maksym Marchenko. It plans to sail to Djibouti, where the grain will be unloaded and transferred to Ethiopia by the World Food Program. Ukraine and Russia reached a deal with Turkey on July 22 to restart Black Sea grain deliveries.

Sunday, Aug. 14

6:00 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issues a warning to Russian forces surrounding Europe’s biggest nuclear power station in Zaporizhzhia.

“Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the station, or shoots under the cover of the station, must understand that he is becoming a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” Zelenskyy says in an address to the nation.

Calling Russia a “terrorist state,” he says Russian officials and anyone helping them should be held accountable for “blackmail” over the nuclear plant.

Russia has rejected international calls for a demilitarized zone around the plant and says its forces are there to protect it.

5:00 a.m. Two more ships carrying grain depart Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, bringing the total number of vessels to depart the country under a U.N.-brokered deal to 16. The Barbados-flagged Fulmar S sets sail from Chornomorsk port, carrying 12,000 tonnes of corn to Turkey’s southern Iskenderun province, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said. The Marshall Islands-flagged Thoe departs from the same port and heads to Turkey’s Tekirdag, carrying 3,000 tonnes of sunflower seeds.

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry says 450,000 tonnes of agriculture products has departed from Ukrainian sea ports since early August under the deal which ensured safe passage for vessels.

Saturday, Aug. 13

St. Basil’s Cathedral, left, and the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin, as seen through a gate in central Moscow.

  © Reuters

10:00 p.m. A Russia diplomat tells the Tass state news agency that Moscow has warned Washington about points of no return that could lead to a complete break of diplomatic relations.

Alexander Darchiev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American department, says a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would declare Moscow a state sponsor of terrorism could be detrimental to already tattered relations.

“If passed, it would mean that Washington would have to cross the point of no return, with the most serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations, up to their lowering or even breaking them off. The U.S. side has been warned,” Darchiev says.

1:30 a.m. Russia’s economy contracted 4.0% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2022, preliminary data from the federal statistics service Rosstat shows.

The data covers the first full quarter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has triggered sweeping Western sanctions on its energy and financial sectors, including a freeze of Russian reserves held abroad. Western companies have quit the Russian market in droves.

Rosstat says the contraction had been caused by weakness in consumer demand and the aftermath of sanctions. “June data suggests the contraction in the Russian economy seems to have bottomed out as the situation in some industries is stabilizing,” Sergey Konygin, an economist at Sinara Investment Bank, tells Reuters.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace at a donor conference in Copenhagen.

  © AP

12:10 a.m. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says Russia is unlikely to succeed in occupying Ukraine.

The invasion has “faltered” and is “starting to fail,” Wallace says at a conference in Copenhagen where the U.K. and others agree to expand financial support to Ukraine for military training and equipment.

“Russia are starting to fail in many areas,” he says. “They have failed so far and are unlikely to ever succeed in occupying Ukraine. Their invasion has faltered and constantly been remodified to the extent they are really only focusing in parts of the south and in the east, a long, long way away from their three-day so-called special operation. Three days are now over 150 days and nearly six months in, with huge, significant losses of both equipment and indeed Russian personnel.”

Friday, Aug. 12

4:00 a.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other voices have urged the creation of a demilitarized zone around Ukraine’s embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces have seized in their southern offensive.

“The facility must not be used as part of any military operation,” Guterres says in a statement. “Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area.”

The U.S. supports calls for a demilitarized zone around Zaporizhzhia, Reuters quotes a State Department spokesperson as saying.

Thursday, Aug. 11

10:09 p.m. McDonald’s plans to reopen some of its 109 restaurants in Ukraine over the next few months. The company closed its locations in Ukraine and Russia in March, and sold most of its eateries in Russia to a local licensee in May.

“After extensive consultation and discussion with Ukrainian officials, suppliers and security specialists, and in consideration of our employees’ request to return to work, we have decided to institute a phased plan to reopen some restaurants in Kyiv and western Ukraine,” Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s head of international operated markets, said in a message to employees.

9:30 p.m. The U.K. will send additional multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says. Rocket systems gifted to Ukraine by Britain earlier this year have been used successfully, the U.K. says.

Britain also will provide precision-guided M31A1 missiles, which can strike targets up to 80 kilometers away, letting Ukraine continue to defend itself against Russian heavy artillery, according to a report on the U.K. government website.

8:20 p.m. Satellite photos show the extent of damage at a Russian air base in annexed Crimea. Craters and the charred remains of at least eight destroyed warplanes are visible at Saky air base in images from independent satellite firm Planet Labs.

A combination photo shows satellite images of Saky air base in Crimea on Aug. 9 and after a presumed attack on Aug. 10. (Planet Labs via Reuters)

Russia has denied aircraft were damaged and said explosions seen at the base on Tuesday were accidental. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the damage, but presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has issued a warning.

6:55 a.m. Russia charges a former state TV journalist with spreading false information about the Russian army, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, her lawyer says.

The charge relates to a protest last month when Marina Ovsyannikova held an anti-war placard on the Moskva river embankment opposite the Kremlin and posted images of the protest on her Telegram channel.

Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova attends a court hearing in Moscow on July 28.

  © Reuters

12:17 a.m. Ukraine’s overseas creditors back its request for a two-year freeze on payments on almost $20 billion in international bonds, Reuters reports, citing a regulatory filing. Bondholders have agreed to postpone sovereign interest and capital payments for 13 Ukrainian sovereign bonds maturing between 2022 and 2033, a move that lets the war-torn country avoid a debt default.

Wednesday, Aug. 10

11:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the possible delivery of food, fertilizer and fuel to Mali in a phone call with the African nation’s interim leader, Assimi Goita, according to the Kremlin.

“Assimi Goita thanked Vladimir Putin for Russia’s multifaceted support,” the Kremlin says in a news release. “The leaders discussed the further development of bilateral cooperation in trade, the economy and other areas.”

The call came at the initiative of the Malian side, according to the Kremlin.

Putin expressed hope that the Russia-Africa summit to be held in St. Petersburg in 2023 “would help promote traditional friendship with all African states.”

Goita took power after leading a military coup in 2021, his second in nine months.

1:00 p.m. The United Nations is considering implementing controls on the world’s flourishing — and underscrutinized — trade in torture tools, but likely faces a backlash from China, which opposed the establishment of a U.N. group to study the issue.

In a recent report, the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that while torture is banned under international law, there is a lack of global curbs on the trade in such equipment.

China is a prominent exporter of inherently abusive goods. One company in question, Tianjin Suiqiao Security Electronics, which describes itself as a designated enterprise approved by the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, supplies spiked batons to Russia, North Korea, Southeast Asia and Africa, among other places. Read more.

Smoke rises after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea, on Aug. 9.

  © Reuters

2:53 a.m. A Russian air base in the annexed Crimean Peninsula is rocked by a series of blasts that Moscow says were detonations of stored ammunition, not the result of any attack by Ukraine. One person dies, and local officials say at least five people are injured.

Local witnesses report hearing at least 12 explosions around 3:20 p.m. local time from the Saky air base on the west coast of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and used in February as a launchpad for its invasion. Videos taken from beaches were posted on social media, showing huge plumes of smoke in the distance.

Ukraine issued a statement in a heavily suggestive tone reminiscent of its response to unexplained blasts on Russian territory during the conflict. “The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine cannot determine the cause of the fire, but once again draws attention to fire safety rules and the ban on smoking in uncertified places,” it said.

2:52 a.m. The U.S. State Department approves $89 million worth of assistance for mine-clearing equipment and training to help Ukraine equip 100 ordnance removal teams for a year.

Tuesday, Aug. 9

3:58 a.m. Cargo from the Razoni, the first ship to depart Ukraine under a deal to restart the country’s grain exports, has been rejected by its original buyer in Lebanon, the Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut says.

The buyer blames the more than five-month delay in delivery. The shipper is now searching for a new buyer in Lebanon or elsewhere, according to the embassy.

3:45 a.m. Russia tells the U.S. that it will temporarily stop allowing American inspections of its nuclear weapons facilities under the bilateral New START treaty, arguing that travel restrictions imposed by Washington and others are preventing Russian inspections of American weapons.

The treaty entered into force in 2011 and limits the deployment of nuclear warheads and their delivery vehicles by the U.S. and Russia.

3:02 a.m. A judge has authorized U.S. prosecutors to seize a $90 million Airbus plane owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch, federal prosecutors in Manhattan say.

Skoch, a member of the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, owns the plane through shell companies and trusts tied to his romantic partner, prosecutors say. He was initially sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018 for alleged ties to Russian organized criminal groups. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued further sanctions against Skoch in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

2:40 a.m. The U.S. will provide an additional $4.5 billion to Ukraine’s government, bringing its total budgetary support since Russia’s February invasion to $8.5 billion, the U.S. Agency for International Development says.

The money will help Ukraine maintain essential functions, including social and financial assistance for the growing poor population, children with disabilities and millions of internally displaced people, as the war drags on. The World Bank estimates that 55% of Ukrainians will be living in poverty by the end of 2023 as a result of the war.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, seen outside the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Enerhodar on Aug. 4.

  © Reuters

12:02 a.m. Kyiv and Moscow trade blame over the weekend shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex and seek to address international fears that their battle for control of the plant might trigger catastrophe. The plant sits in a southern region seized by Russia in March and now targeted by Ukraine for a counteroffensive.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres calls any attack on a nuclear plant “suicidal” and demands access for U.N. nuclear inspectors.

Kyiv has appealed for the area to be demilitarized and for the International Atomic Energy Agency to be let in. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it also favors an IAEA visit, accusing Ukraine of shelling the plant. Ukraine blames Russia for attacks near the complex. It says three radiation sensors were damaged, with two workers hospitalized with shrapnel injuries. Reuters could not verify either side’s version of what happened.

“Such insane actions could [lead] to the situation spiraling out of control, and it will be a Fukushima or Chornobyl,” says Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom.

Monday, Aug. 8

2:30 p.m. Two more grain-carrying ships have sailed from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Monday, Turkey’s defense ministry said, as part of a deal to unblock Ukrainian exports by sea. The Sacura, which departed from Yuzni, is carrying 11,000 tons of soybeans to Italy, it said, while the Arizona, which left Chernomorsk, is carrying 48,458 tons of corn to Iskenderun in southern Turkey.

Turkish-flagged cargo ship Polarnet, carrying Ukrainian grain, sails through the Bosphorus, in Istanbul on Aug. 7.

  © Reuters

1:30 p.m. Chinese exports to Russia snapped four months of declines and grew robustly in July, while Russian shipments to China also held up well, official customs data showed. Shipments to sanctions-hit Russia rose 22.2% in July from a year earlier in dollar terms, shaking off the decline of 17% in June and marking the first growth since March, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data released on Sunday.

Shipments from China to Russia rose 22.2% in July from a year earlier, logging their first gain since March.

  © Reuters

Sunday, Aug. 7

3:30 p.m. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the second caravan of ships with Ukrainian agriculture products sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday as part of a deal to unblock Ukrainian sea exports, according to a Reuters report.

The four bulk carriers were loaded with almost 170,000 tons of grain.

3:10 a.m. For the first time since the start of the war, a foreign-flagged ship arrives in Ukraine. The Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S docks in the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk and will be loaded with grain, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov says.

2:15 a.m. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is “extremely concerned” about shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, saying the action raised the risk of a nuclear disaster. “I’m extremely concerned by the shelling yesterday at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement.

Shells hit a high-voltage power line on Friday at the plant, prompting its operators to disconnect a reactor despite no radioactive leak being detected.

Grossi called on all sides in the conflict to exercise the “utmost restraint” around the plant.

12:55 a.m. Western officials express alarm at Turkey’s growing ties with Moscow after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin agreed to deepen economic ties, according to a Financial Times report.

One EU official tells the FT that the 27-member bloc was watching Turkish-Russian co-operation “more and more closely,” saying Turkey was “increasingly” becoming a platform for trade with Russia. Another describes Turkey as “very opportunistic,” in its actions toward Russia, adding, “We are trying to make the Turks pay attention to our concerns.”

Saturday, Aug. 6

11:20 p.m. Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak says North Macedonia will supply tanks and planes to help Ukraine. “Many nations are showing more courage today than half of the G-20. Like North Macedonia, giving Ukraine a (supportive) shoulder in the form of tanks and planes. We will never forget this,” Podolyak says in a tweet.

4:00 p.m. Russia’s war in Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, with most fighting shifting to a nearly 350-kilometer front stretching southwest from near Zaporizhzhia to Kherson, parallel to the Dnieper River, British military intelligence says. Russian forces are almost certainly amassing in the south of Ukraine, anticipating a counter-offensive or in preparation for a possible assault, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.

9:30 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns on the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that a new arms race is accelerating and it is “totally unacceptable” for countries with nuclear weapons to even “admit the possibility” of using them. Guterres became the first serving U.N. chief to visit Hiroshima since 2010. “Crises with grave nuclear undertones are spreading fast — from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Guterres said in a speech at an annual memorial ceremony in Peace Memorial Park. “Humanity is playing with a loaded gun.” Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered nuclear forces on high alert soon after going to war in Ukraine in late February.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech to mark the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on Aug. 6.

  © Kyodo

9:15 a.m. With the world fearing the potential use of nuclear arms due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hiroshima marks the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a native of the city, representatives of more than 100 countries and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended a ceremony marking the occasion. “Now that the threat of nuclear weapons and even the use of them has become a real issue,” Kishida said, “and momentum toward a world without nuclear weapons is said to be receding, from Hiroshima, I appeal loudly to the world that we must not repeat the ravages of the use of nuclear weapons.”

4:49 a.m. Ukrainian state nuclear power company Energoatom says Russia shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. No radioactive leak was detected at the facility, which remains operational despite damage to power lines, it says.

Russia blames Ukraine for the shelling. The Russian government’s Tass news agency reports that Ukrainian attacks were followed by a fire at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

1:50 a.m. The Kremlin could seek an easing of international sanctions against Russian metal producers in exchange for allowing items beyond grain to be exported from Ukraine, Russian news agency Interfax reports.

The issue cannot be resolved while ignoring sanctions on Russian metal producers, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is quoted as saying. His comment suggests that Moscow is intent on pressing the issue as part of negotiations to resume Ukrainian exports of iron ore and other goods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Aug. 5.

  © Pool photo/Reuters

1:30 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan express a desire to deepen economic ties.

The two leaders agreed in Sochi “to increase the bilateral trade volume on a balanced basis and to achieve designated targets; to meet one another’s expectations on the economy and energy; to take concrete steps to boost collaboration about issues that have been pending on the agenda of both countries for a long time, concerning sectors such as transportation, commerce, agriculture, industry, finance, tourism and construction,” a post-meeting joint statement says.

Friday, Aug. 5

Russian Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov on Aug. 5 signaled Russia’s willingness to consider a prisoner swap following U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner’s sentencing on drug charges.

  © Reuters

4:45 p.m. Russia says it is ready to discuss prisoner swaps with the U.S. through an existing diplomatic channel, a day after a Russian court sentenced basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for a drug offence. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, had previously agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss such matters. “We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden,” Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia. “If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy … that is their business, and I would even say that it is their problem.”

Global crude oil benchmarks have slipped to pre-invasion levels as recession fears have heightened. 

  © Reuters

4:18 p.m. The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s southern Rostov region has fully resumed operations after it was struck by drones in June, Interfax news agency cited authorities as saying Friday. The plant said in June that it was hit by two drones flying from the direction of Ukraine, prompting it to suspend production.

3:21 p.m. Japan’s government has asked Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi to “think positively” in joining the new Russian entity that will replace the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, industry minister Koichi Hagiuda says. “The public and private sectors will work together to protect the interests of Japanese companies and ensure a stable supply of LNG,” Hagiuda told a news conference.

10:40 a.m. Oil prices extended losses on Friday, after hitting their lowest since before Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine in the previous session, as the market fretted over the impact of inflation on global economic growth and demand. Brent crude dropped 10 cents — or 0.1% — to $94.02 a barrel by 0047 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $88.48 a barrel, down 6 cents.

1:56 a.m. A Russian court sentences American basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison after finding her guilty of deliberately bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia, a ruling that U.S. President Joe Biden calls “unacceptable.”

Before the verdict, she tearfully pleaded with a Russian judge not to “end her life” with a harsh prison sentence. The court also fined her 1 million rubles ($16,990). Her sentencing could pave the way for a U.S.-Russia prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and a Russian who was once a prolific arms dealer.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association star was arrested in mid-February as she arrived to play for a Russian side during the WNBA offseason. Griner admitted having the vape cartridges containing hashish oil but said she made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing them.

Thursday, Aug. 4

9:30 p.m. The Bank of England warns of persistent energy-driven inflation and a looming recession after raising its main interest rate by 0.5 percentage point, to 1.75%.

“The latest rise in gas prices has led to another significant deterioration in the outlook for activity in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe,” the central bank says in a statement on Thursday’s meeting. “The United Kingdom is now projected to enter recession from the fourth quarter of this year.”

The BoE expects consumer price growth to reach 13% in the fourth quarter of this year.

A Russian tank covered in green sheets stands outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, in this photo released March 16. (National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom/Handout via Reuters)

5:30 p.m. The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog appealed for access to a Ukrainian nuclear power plant now controlled by Russian forces to determine whether it is a source of danger. Contact with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, which is being operated by Ukrainian technicians, is “fragile” and communications do not function every day, International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

“We can’t afford faulty communication with the plant in areas relevant to safety. We know of allegations that live ammunition is stored in the plant, that there are attacks on the power plant,” he said in the interview, published in German. “There are contradictions between the accounts of the Russian and Ukrainian sides. I receive information, I also mention it in my situation reports, but I have no way of determining whether it corresponds to the facts.”

The U.S. Senate on Aug. 3 overwhelming voted in favor of Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO, the most significant expansion of the alliance since the 1990s.

  © Reuters

9:30 a.m. The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO, the most significant expansion of the 30-member alliance since the 1990s, as it responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Senate voted 95-1 to support ratification of the two countries’ accession documents, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority of 67 votes required.

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

7:08 a.m. Russia has decided to establish a new operating company for the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, the government’s Tass news agency reports, with Japanese stakeholders facing the decision of whether to maintain their interests.

Located on Russia’s Pacific island of Sakhalin, the project supplies around 10% of Japan’s total liquefied natural gas imports.

Russian state gas company Gazprom owns just over 50% of Sakhalin Energy and will take a similar stake in the new operator. The remainder will be held by the new operator itself.

Shell, which now owns roughly 27.5% of Sakhalin Energy, has announced plans to withdraw from the Sakhalin-2 project. Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., with interests of 12.5% and 10%, still need to decide whether to apply for stakes under the new framework. Read more.

1:10 a.m. “Meaningless” and “almost insulting” is how one analyst quoted by Reuters describes the crude oil production increase just approved by OPEC and its allies.

OPEC+ will raise output by 100,000 barrels a day, or 0.1% of global demand. The move is a nod to U.S. President Joe Biden, who visited the Middle East recently to call on Saudi Arabia and others to pump more oil, but is likely a disappointment.

The Financial Times describes Wednesday’s decision as “one of the smallest oil production increases in the group’s history.” Read more.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, sails in the Bosphorus en route to Lebanon on Aug. 3.

  © Reuters

12:00 a.m. The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain since a United Nations-brokered deal to restart exports has left the Black Sea and is headed to Lebanon.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni is carrying around 27,000 tonnes of Ukrainian corn.

In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commends the U.N. and Turkey for their role in the negotiations and says the shipment “raises hope of bringing the millions of tons of grain stuck at Ukraine’s ports to those facing food insecurity around the world.” Blinken calls on Russia to “end its attacks that are rendering farmland in Ukraine unusable and destroying agricultural infrastructure.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu discuss implementation of the grain export deal on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, gestures beside Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy, at a turbine for the Nordstream 1 gas pipeline in Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany, on Aug. 3.

  © AP

Wednesday, Aug. 3

6:37 p.m. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inspected a mechanical turbine at the center of a natural gas dispute and declared: “There are no problems” with the part despite words to the contrary from Russia’s state-controlled gas company. Russian energy giant Gazprom last week halved the amount of natural gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, citing delays with the turbine’s repair and delivery. But Scholz insisted the needed part was ready to be shipped to Russia at any time.

3:12 p.m. Hungarian drugmaker Richter reported a net profit of 76.5 billion forints ($195.66 million), beating expectations, as Russia remained the company’s second-biggest market. It also maintained operations in Ukraine. Sales grew strongly in the first half of 2022 across all markets except Ukraine, as revenue was lifted by outsized gains from exchange rate movements combined with price increases, Richter said in its earnings statement. Richter has experienced pressure from Ukraine to “rethink” its presence in Russia, but the company said last month that it is not leaving as it provides medicine for 12 million Russians.

1:00 p.m. Russia wants a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine and last month’s agreement on grain shipments might offer a way forward, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin says. “The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder told Stern weekly and broadcasters RTL/ntv, adding he had met Putin in Moscow last week.

“A first success is the grain deal, perhaps that can be slowly expanded to a ceasefire,” he said. Russia and Ukraine struck a deal last month to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports and the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since Moscow’s invasion five months ago is on its way to Lebanon.

11:18 a.m. Russia has accused the United States of direct involvement in the Ukraine war. Russia’s defense ministry, headed by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said comments by Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence, to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper showed that Washington was entangled in the conflict despite assertions it was limiting its role to arms supplies. Skibitsky told the paper there was consultation between U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence officials before strikes and Washington had an effective veto on intended targets but that U.S. officials were not providing direct targeting information.

Russia’s delegates at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference on Aug. 1: Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to “direct aggression” by NATO countries, it says at the conference.

  © AP

8:19 a.m. The conflict in Ukraine does not warrant Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, but Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to “direct aggression” by NATO countries over the invasion, Russia said on Tuesday at a nuclear nonproliferation conference. Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov rejected “utterly unfounded, detached from reality and unacceptable speculations that Russia allegedly threatens to use nuclear weapons, particularly in Ukraine.” Within days of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Putin put the country’s deterrence forces — which include nuclear arms — on high alert, citing what he called aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow. Trofimov, a senior diplomat in the nonproliferation and arms control department of Russia’s foreign ministry, said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.

4:20 a.m. The U.S. Treasury and State departments announce fresh sanctions against Russian businesses, oligarchs and officials.

Among those sanctioned is Alina Kabaeva, chair of the National Media Group — a pro-Kremlin group of media organizations — and a former Olympic gymnast. The Treasury Department describes her as having a “close relationship to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

Other targets include a leading steelmaker, a financial institution accused of sanctions evasion and entities in the country’s defense and technology sectors.

3:50 a.m. The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine under a United Nations-brokered deal has reached the Istanbul Strait, Turkish authorities say.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, is carrying corn from Odesa to Lebanon. It has stopped in Turkey for joint inspects overseen by Turkish, Russia, Ukrainian and U.N. representatives — a provision of the deal to restart Ukrainian agricultural exports through the Black Sea.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul on Aug. 2.

  © Reuters

3:20 a.m. Russia has called U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “a clear provocation in the spirit of the U.S. aggressive line of comprehensive containment” of China.

“The Chinese side has the right to take measures necessary to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Taiwan issue,” the Russian foreign ministry says in a statement.

The statement echoes China’s expressions of support for Russia’s “security interests” in Ukraine.

“We call on Washington to refrain from actions that undermine regional stability and international security and recognize the new geopolitical reality, in which there is no longer room for American hegemony,” the Russian statement says.

1:02 a.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Myanmar on Wednesday for talks with Wunna Maung Lwin, the Southeast Asian country’s top diplomat, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says, according to Russian news agency Tass.

They plan to discuss “prospects for the entire complex of Russia-Myanmar relations, including political dialogue, trade and economic cooperation, interaction in the field of defense and security, as well as humanitarian ties,” Zakharova says. “Pressing international and regional issues will also be considered.”

12:30 a.m. Even as the war in Ukraine rages on, tensions are rising in the Indo-Pacific region with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan — the highest-level American visit to the island in 25 years.

Pelosi has arrived at Taipei’s Songshan airport and is scheduled to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday.

Ahead of Pelosi’s visit, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said it was unfortunate that the U.S. had chosen “the path of confrontation.”

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s eastern command has announced military exercises near Taiwan in response to the visit. In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry says the country “will definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the U.S. speaker’s visit.”

“All the consequences arising therefrom must be borne by the U.S. side and the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” the statement adds.

An M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) being fired in an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

  © Reuters

Tuesday, Aug. 2

11:30 p.m. The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday will add 25 Russian-operated Airbus airplanes to the Biden administration’s sanctions list, Reuters reports.

The operators, which include Ural Airlines, are believed to violate U.S. export controls, Reuters reports. Tuesday’s move “further degrades Russian airlines’ ability to operate their fleets of both U.S. and EU airplanes,” Commerce Department Export Enforcement chief Matthew Axelrod says in a statement provided to Reuters.

6:14 p.m. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia had destroyed six U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Interfax reports. Shoigu said Russia had also destroyed five anti-ship Harpoon missile launch systems and 33 M777 howitzers since Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24.

3:23 p.m. Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., stakeholders of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, have slashed the asset value of the project by a combined 220 billion yen ($1.66 billion) amid uncertainty over a recent presidential decree. Mitsui reduced the asset value of its stake in the Sakhalin-2 energy project by 136.6 billion yen, while Mitsubishi reduced its by 81.1 billion yen. On June 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree to demand Bermuda-based Sakhalin Energy become a Russian company.

“Of course, the Ukrainians cannot fire back, lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of how Russia is using the Zaporizhzhia power station.

  © Reuters

11:50 p.m. The U.S. says Russia is using Ukraine’s biggest nuclear power plant as a “nuclear shield” by stationing troops there, preventing Ukrainian forces from returning fire and risking a terrible nuclear accident. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington he was “deeply concerned” that the Zaporizhzhia plant — the same one from March that Russia was firing shells close to — was now being used as a military base to fire on Ukrainian forces. “Of course, the Ukrainians cannot fire back, lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant,” Blinken told reporters after nonproliferation talks at the U.N. in New York on Monday. Russia’s actions went beyond using a “human shield,” Blinken said, dubbing the ploy a “nuclear shield.”

4:38 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces up to $550 million in arms and equipment for Ukraine. This “includes more ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 155mm artillery systems.” The latest installment brings the Biden administration’s cumulative military aid to Ukraine to about $8.7 billion.

4:30 a.m. “Today, humanity’s just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation, away from nuclear annihilation,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells a United Nations nuclear nonproliferation meeting. “Nuclear dangers” are now at their highest “since the height of the Cold War,” Guterres tells the review conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Speaking at the conference, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urges nuclear weapons states to disclose information on their production of fissile materials. Japan “encourages the U.S. and China to engage in a bilateral dialogue on nuclear arms control and disarmament,” he says.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden issue written remarks. “We believe that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Putin says. Biden says that the U.S. is ready to pursue a new nuclear arms deal with Russia.

The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni leaves Odesa with a shipment of corn on Aug. 1.

  © Reuters

4:00 a.m. People from countries deemed “unfriendly” by Moscow would be barred from adopting Russian orphans under newly proposed legislation, Interfax reports. The bill has been introduced in the State Duma, Russia’s parliament. It leaves open the possibility of lifting the adoption ban for countries removed from the “unfriendly” list, according to Interfax.

Monday, Aug. 1

6:15 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says its forces have destroyed two U.S.-made HIMARS in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, and a launch system for Harpoon anti-ship missiles in the Odesa region, Interfax reports.

5:00 p.m. The first ship carrying grain to leave Ukraine under a safe passage agreement will anchor off the coast of Istanbul around 1200 GMT on Tuesday for a joint inspection, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar says. Akar was speaking in an interview with Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency after the Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni, which is loaded with corn, left the Ukrainian port of Odesa for Lebanon. As part of the agreement, a Joint Coordination Center was set up in Istanbul with personnel from the United Nations, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.

3:46 p.m. A ship carrying Ukrainian grain has left the port of Odesa, the first to do so as part of a deal to unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov says. “The first grain ship since #RussianAggression has left port. Thanks to the support of all our partner countries & @UN we were able to fully implement the agreement signed in Istanbul,” he wrote on Twitter.

11:00 a.m. Anatoly Chubais, who resigned as a high-ranking adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin and left Russia shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, was reported to be in intensive care in a European hospital on Sunday for a neurological disorder. Ksenia Sobchak, a Russian television personality and family friend of Chubais, said on Telegram that she had spoken with his wife and that he was suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. Although Chubais did not state his reason for resigning in March, it was presumed to be because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A firefighter works to douse a fire in a building, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Mykolaiv, in this handout picture released on July 31. 

  © Reuters

8:31 a.m. Russian missiles pounded the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv early on Sunday, killing the owner of a major grain exporter, while a drone strike on Russia’s Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol was launched from within the city in a “terrorist attack,” a Russian lawmaker says.

Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of agriculture company Nibulon, and his wife were killed in their home, Mykolaiv Gov. Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram. Headquartered in Mykolaiv, a strategically important city that borders the mostly Russian-occupied Kherson region, Nibulon specializes in the production and export of wheat, barley and corn, and has its own fleet and shipyard.

Five Russian navy staff members were injured by an explosion after a presumed drone flew into the courtyard of Russia’s Black Sea fleet headquarters in Russian-occupied Sevastopol, the Crimean port city’s Gov. Mikhail Razvozhayev told Russian media.

Sunday, July 31

5:29 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says on Navy Day in St. Petersburg that the navy will receive hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles within months and that the location of their deployment will depend on Russian interests.

Before the speech, Putin signs a new naval doctrine setting out the force’s broad strategic aims, including its ambitions as a “great maritime power” extending over the entire world. The doctrine identifies the U.S.’s “strategic course towards dominance” in the ocean and growing NATO activity close to Russia as major security threats, the government’s Tass news agency reports.

4:51 a.m. Ukraine decides on a mandatory evacuation of people in the region around the eastern city of Donetsk, the scene of fierce fighting with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. In a late-night address, the president also says the hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbas region need to leave.

For earlier updates, click here.

Source link

Related post