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


  • Ukraine warns of new Russian southern offensive
  • Strike force targeting president’s birthplace, Ukraine says
  • US, Italy approve Finland and Sweden joining NATO
  • Ukraine calls on China to help end war, says SCMP

KYIV/WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine said Russia had begun creating a military strike force targeting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s hometown, Kryvyi Rih, as NATO moved closer to its most significant expansion in decades as the alliance responds on the invasion of Ukraine.

The US Senate and the Italian parliament both voted on Wednesday to allow Finland and Sweden to join the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). According to NATO membership, which must be ratified by all 30 member states, an attack on one member is an attack on all. read more

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the US’s continued bipartisan commitment to NATO and to ensure that our Alliance is ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement. a statement.

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Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden not to join NATO.

NATO’s 30 allies signed the accession protocol last month, allowing them to join the US-led nuclear-armed alliance once its members ratify the decision. read more

Ratification can take up to a year.

Ukraine on Wednesday rejected suggestions from former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the war, saying any dialogue would depend on a Russian ceasefire and withdrawal of its troops.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Thursday that Ukraine was seeking an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end the war.

“It’s a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy… So (it) can influence Russia politically and economically. And China is (also a) permanent member of the UN Security Council,” Zelenskiy told SCMP in an interview. .

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

NEW OFFENSIVE

On the battlefield, Russian troops engaged in significant military activity, firing from tanks, barrels and rocket artillery into various parts of Ukraine, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Thursday.

Earlier, Ukraine said that Russia had begun setting up a strike group toward Kryvyi Rih and that it could prepare new offensive operations in southern Ukraine. read more

The steel-producing town of Kryvyi Rih, where Zelenskiy grew up, is about 50 km (30 miles) from the southern front line.

Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on the Telegram app that three civilians had been killed in Bakhmut, Maryinka and Shevchenko and five injured in the past 24 hours.

Governors of Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions reported that their regions had been shelled overnight and civilian infrastructure, houses, had been damaged.

“The idea is to put military pressure on us in Kharkov, Donetsk and Luhansk in the coming weeks… What happens in the east is not what will determine the outcome of the war,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said. in a statement. interview that appears on YouTube.

The whole purpose of the Russian offensive in the east is to force Ukraine to divert troops from the area that is a real danger – Zaporizhzhya, Arestovych added.

Mayor Yevhen Yevtushenko of Nikopol, west of Zaporizhzhya in central Ukraine, said his city had been shelled overnight.

Russia was accused in March of firing grenades dangerously close to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, when its forces took over in the early weeks of the invasion.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Moscow of using Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant as a “nuclear shield” in attacks on Ukrainian troops. read more

Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.

Russia denies targeting civilians, but many towns and cities have been destroyed and thousands have died in Europe’s worst conflict since World War II. Ukraine and its western allies accuse the Russian armed forces of war crimes.

FOOD CRISIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in what he calls 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 led to a global energy and food crisis. Russia and Ukraine produce about a third of the world’s wheat and Russia is Europe’s main energy supplier.

An agreement between Moscow and Kiev, 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 start of the war passed through the Bosphorus on Wednesday. The ship, Razoni, was carrying 26,527 tons of corn to the Lebanese port of Tripoli. read more

Zelenskiy said Ukraine must export a minimum of 10 million tons of grain to urgently help reduce its budget deficit, which amounted to $5 billion a month.

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

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Reporting by Reuters agencies; Writing by Himani Sarkar; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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