“Kim had met President Vladimir Putin and visited key military and technology sites, underscoring the countries’ deepening defense cooperation in the face of separate, intensifying confrontations with the West. U.S. and South Korean officials have said North Korea could provide badly needed munitions for Moscow’s war on Ukraine in exchange for sophisticated Russian weapons technology that would advance Kim’s nuclear ambitions.”
“Although depleted uranium is a byproduct of uranium enrichment, U.S. officials say the munitions are common and do not present a radioactive threat. They cite studies by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, showing “the existence of depleted uranium residues dispersed in the environment does not pose a radiological hazard to the population of the affected regions.”
However, opponents such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons say there are dangerous health risks, including cancer, from touching or ingesting depleted-uranium dust.”
“U.S. officials ultimately decided to send the munitions because they are considered the most effective way of arming U.S.-made Abrams tanks, according to a Defense Department official familiar with the plans. The first tranche of 10 Abrams will arrive in Ukraine in mid-September, after a group of Ukrainian soldiers finished a training program to use them last month, POLITICO first reported.”
“If Russia hadn’t invaded, Ukraine was meant to hold parliamentary elections next month and a presidential vote in March 2024.
Whether elections could or should happen is once again a lively topic of discussion in Kyiv, after U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in late August called for Kyiv to organize “free and fair” elections even when it is under all-out assault from Russian attacks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is strongly suggesting he wants to run for a second term. “In 2024, if the war continues and if elections are held, I will never in my life abandon my country. Because I am the guarantor of the Constitution, and I will defend it in any case,” he said in a recent interview with the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP.
Zelenskyy responded to Graham by saying he is ready — if parliament agrees — to overturn the martial law that bans the country from holding elections in time of war, but it’s a topic that raises major questions about democratic legitimacy: most TV channels are heavily controlled by the government, soldiers would have to vote in frontline trenches and millions of Ukrainians have fled abroad.”
“there is a third possible way to satisfy the need for Ukrainian success and Russian failure, over which Putin would have no veto.
In this scenario, the United States would give the Ukrainian military whatever it needs to advance as far as possible in its counteroffensive. At an appropriate point next year, Ukraine would declare a pause in offensive military operations and shift its primary focus to defending and rebuilding liberated areas while integrating with Western institutions. Then, at its July, 2024 summit in Washington, NATO would invite Ukraine to join the Western alliance, guaranteeing the security of all territory controlled by the Ukrainian government at that point under Article 5 of the NATO treaty.”
“it isn’t a time of plenty in the breadbasket of Europe, and not only because Russia, for now, says it won’t continue the arrangement it made with the United Nations and Turkey that for a year permitted 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain to be exported from the country’s massive southern ports. The present war has stunted Ukraine’s grain industry at every stage, beginning months before harvest time.
Though blessed with an abundance of wheat-friendly chernozem — the Russian term for “black earth” — most Ukrainians fertilize their soil. “There’s a great shortage of nitrogen fertilizers,” says Denis Tkachenko, who helps run a trade association of Odesa region farms including about 12,000 acres. Fertilization means more grain enriched with the proteins enabling wheat to be baked into bread; poorer crops can be sold more cheaply for animal feed.”
“there are many fewer fields. More than a quarter of Ukraine’s grain country lies east of the Dnieper River, and has been controlled or threatened by Russia since the February 2022 invasion. Even in the relatively safe southwest, the Ukrainian military has commandeered — thereby disabling — a lot of farmland. Tkachenko says that about 3 to 5 percent of the fields in his region were fortified early in the war against a possible Russian sea invasion. Another farmer in the area tells me that a third of his nearly 10,000 acres have been used for trenches, mining and the like.”
“Russian ports and ships on the Black Sea — including tankers carrying millions of barrels of oil to Europe — could justifiably be attacked by the Ukrainian military as part of efforts to weaken Moscow’s war machine, a senior Kyiv official warned Monday in the wake of two recent attacks on Russian vessels.
“Everything the Russians are moving back and forth on the Black Sea are our valid military targets,” Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told POLITICO, saying the move was retaliation for Russia withdrawing from the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal and unleashing a series of missile attacks on agricultural stores and ports.
“This story started with Russia blocking the grain corridor, threatening to attack our vessels, destroying our ports,” Ustenko said. “Our maritime infrastructure is under constant attack.”
Over the weekend, Ukraine declared the waters around Russia’s Black Sea ports a “war risk area” from August 23 “until further notice.” The zone includes major Russian ports like Novorossiysk, Anapa, Gelendzhik, Tuapse, Sochi and Taman.”
“On Saturday, Russia’s federal maritime agency, Rosmorrechflot, reported that a Russian tanker, the Sig, had been hit in an apparent strike by Ukrainian forces while sailing close to Ukraine’s occupied Crimean peninsula.
“The tanker received a hit on its engine room, close to the waterline on the starboard side, presumably as a result of an attack by a sea drone,” officials said.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said that as long as Russians “terrorize peaceful Ukrainian cities and destroy grain condemning hundreds of millions to starvation,” there would be “no more safe waters or peaceful harbors for you in the Black and Azov Seas.””
“Last month, Russia shipped almost 59 million barrels of crude oil, a third of its overall exports, from the strategic Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, according to intelligence firm Kpler. Of that, 32 million barrels went to EU countries. The port also handles other fuels like diesel, gasoil and naphtha in addition to grain destined for the global market.”