Daily Briefing: War in Ukraine U.N. and Russian Officials to Discuss Extending Grain Deal in Ukraine
The U.S. and Europe have failed to hold up to their part of the Russia-US nuclear deal, and Russia has not said whether it will support an expansion.
Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
Russia has yet to say whether it will support expansion, and claims that the U.S. is not upholding its part of the agreement. Here are our reports:
On Monday, senior Russian officials will meet with United Nations leaders in Geneva to discuss the extension of an agreement that allows cargo vessels to transport Ukrainian grain through Russian blockades.
The Black Sea grain agreement has been an exceptional example of cooperation between the nations and will expire on Saturday. Three days before its expiration, the agreement was renewed.
Russian leaders have expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement and it is not clear if Moscow will support an extension. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that only the Ukrainian portion of the deal had been implemented so far. However, the Russian side has not upheld the agreement.
The grain deal was designed to end Russia's blocking of Ukrainian exports. However, it also allowed for increased shipments of Russian fertilizer and grain. The pact provided assurances by the United States of America and the European Union that Russian fertilizer and grain traders would be exempted from sanctions. Antonio Guterres (United Nations secretary general) stated last week that "exports of Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizers are essential for global food security, and food prices."
The U.N., Turkey, and Ukraine all support the extension of the agreement.
These are other developments that we are watching this week:
Bakhmut: Russia continued to attack positions near Bakhmut, and other parts in eastern Ukraine. Talk of a retreat from Bakhmut has been fueled by Russian advances and the high number of Ukrainian casualties. Bakhmut is the center of Moscow's push into the Donbas region. Moscow wants victory after a series setbacks, even though Bakhmut's strategic importance is questionable.
Lukashenko in Iran: On Monday, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, of Belarus, will be visiting Iran for meetings including one with Ayatollah Muhammad Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. Moscow dictates Belarus' domestic and foreign policies. Russia is seeking ways to replenish its declining stock of arms, ammunition, and Iran has been a significant source of drones as well as other weapons for Moscow.
Moldova: The weekend saw protests against the pro-Western government of Moldova. According to the United States and Moldova, recent protests were organized by pro-Moscow groups that are trying to incite insurrection.
Cassandra Vinograd and Andrew Higgins contributed reporting.
President Volodymyr Zelesky has named the Ukrainian soldier who was shot to death in a chilling video last week a Hero of Ukraine.
On Sunday night, Mr. Zelensky stated that he had conferred the honor upon Oleksandr Matesiyevsky. His death was recorded in a video. Officials from Ukraine claimed it was the execution of a Russian prisoner of war.
The video is a 10-second long and shows the soldier standing in what appears like a newly dug dirt patch. He exhales a puff of smoke and says "Slava Ukraine" -- Glory to Ukraine, before gunfire almost immediately breaks out off-camera. As Russian voices mock him, the soldier's body crumbles to the ground.
The video was circulated almost immediately. Ukrainian officials used the video to prove Russian war crimes. The prosecution general's office stated that it had opened an inquiry. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba asked the International Criminal Court prosecutor to investigate.
Even though there was conflicting information regarding the identity of the soldier, his image became a national symbol and became widely circulated. Many photos of him were with the words hero and angel wings. Others still featured the phrase Glory To Ukraine.
The north military district regional administration of Ukraine identified the soldier as Mr. Matsiyevsky on Wednesday, citing information from his relatives and fellow soldiers. According to the report, Mr. Matsiyevsky was reported missing in December. He and four other soldiers were fighting with Russian troops near Soledar. Russia took control of Soledar a few weeks later.
In a Telegram post, Mr. Zelensky stated that Mr. Matsiyevsky "will be remembered forever" for his bravery, his confidence in Ukraine, and his 'Glory To Ukraine!' attitude.
-- Randy Pennell