The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

U.N. seeks deal on food exports as war drives up prices and hurts millions worldwide

Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Ukrainian village of Vstupky after Russian artillery struck a nearby field on June 1. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post)
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Top United Nations officials are leading negotiations on a package deal to ensure that both Ukraine and Russia can export stalled shipments of grain and fertilizer, which would buoy a global market in dire need of food as severe hunger crises loom, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday.

The announcement from Guterres came the same day the international body released a bleak new assessment on the ways Russia’s invasion has “exacerbated a global cost-of-living crisis unseen in at least a generation.” The report warned of worldwide social and economic upheaval if world leaders do not act fast.

In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky laid out in stark terms the stakes of the battle for Severodonetsk, the eastern city where the war’s most intense fighting has lately been focused. “In many ways, the fate of our Donbas is being decided there,” he said in his nightly address, referring to the contested area that includes the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Here’s what else to know

  • The foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey said they held “substantial” talks on a proposal to create a shipping corridor to allow wheat exports from Ukraine, but they did not announce an agreement amid the worsening global food crisis.
  • President Biden will travel to Europe for Group of Seven and NATO summits later this month, the White House announced, as he continues his efforts to sustain international support for Ukraine.
  • A Russian radio station’s news bulletin was interrupted Wednesday by Ukrainian anthems and antiwar songs, in what the editor in chief called an apparent hack.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.
6:31 p.m.
Headshot of Reis Thebault
National and breaking news reporter
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday laid out in stark terms the stakes of the battle for Severodonetsk, the eastern city where the war’s most intense fighting has lately been focused. “In many ways, the fate of our Donbas is being decided there,” he said in his nightly address, referring to the contested region that includes the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.Zelensky and local leaders have said they will not surrender the city, but have acknowledged that troops may need to reposition to continue fighting effectively. If ceded now, Zelensky has said, the territory would be difficult and dangerous to win back. “Severodonetsk remains the epicenter of the confrontation in Donbas,” he said. “We defend our positions, inflict significant losses on the enemy. This is a very fierce battle, very difficult. Probably one of the most difficult throughout this war.”
3:00 a.m.
Headshot of Reis Thebault
National and breaking news reporter
Zelensky warns of a harsh winter amid fuel shortages — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told his country to prepare for a brutal winter. Across most of the country, temperatures begin dropping in October and often sink below freezing during the harsh months that follow. In his evening address Tuesday, Zelensky said his government is “setting up a headquarters to prepare for the next heating season.”He said Ukraine will not sell its gas and coal abroad, instead saving it for domestic use, and he has directed his energy minister to prioritize the rebuilding of power plants damaged during Russia’s invasion. “In the current situation due to Russia’s aggression,” Zelensky said, “this will indeed be the most difficult winter of all the years of independence.”
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