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Turkey talks on grain blockade were a ‘critical step,’ U.N. chief says

Ukrainian soldiers tow a howitzer near the eastern front line on July 12. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)
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Delegations from Ukraine and Russia met in Turkey on Wednesday along with United Nations diplomats to discuss restarting grain shipments from Ukraine’s blockaded Black Sea ports. The impasse has become a focal point of the war and has contributed to a global food crisis.

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The talks amounted to “a critical step forward,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said Wednesday. “More technical work will now be needed to materialize today’s progress. But the momentum is clear.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also expressed optimism in his nightly address: “The Ukrainian delegation informed me that there is some progress. We will agree on the details with the UN Secretary General in the coming days.”

On the battlefield, Ukrainian officials said they deployed advanced U.S. rocket launchers to strike a Russian ammunition depot in the occupied southern region of Kherson. Zelensky appeared to taunt Russia in an address earlier this week as Kyiv celebrated the strike, saying that Russian soldiers are “truly afraid” of the arsenal.

Here’s what else to know

  • Russia has deported 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens from occupied regions of Ukraine in a systemic “filtration” operation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday, in a loud condemnation of Moscow and affirmation of claims that Ukrainian officials have levied for weeks.
  • The euro and the U.S. dollar are exchanging at a nearly 1-to-1 rate for the first time in nearly two decades, partly due to global disruptions set off by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia values its relationship with fellow oil juggernaut Saudi Arabia and hopes that President Biden’s trip to Israel and the kingdom this week would not be used to foster anti-Russian sentiment.
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