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As Europe burns, Europeans search for firewood

Ukraine Live Briefing: First grain shipment leaves Ukraine as Zelensky urges security for future food exports

A firefighter douses flames Sunday in a building hit by Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)
A firefighter douses flames Sunday in a building hit by Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)

ODESSA, Ukraine — A ship carrying grain left the Ukrainian city of Odessa for the first time since Russia’s invasion and blockade of the country’s ports. The shipment is the result of a U.N.-backed deal meant to ease the global hunger crisis.

World leaders heralded it as a badly needed glimmer of hope in the race to combat soaring prices, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said international monitors must guarantee the safety of future food-hauling freighters. “We cannot have the illusions that Russia will simply refrain from trying to disrupt Ukrainian exports,” he said.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the world.

How will the Ukraine grain deal affect the global food crisis?

Key developments

  • The cargo vessel is carrying more than 28,000 tons of corn. It is expected to arrive in Turkish territorial waters Tuesday, en route to Lebanon. A Russian missile strike on Odessa one day after the U.N.-brokered grain-export deal was signed in late July had raised fears that the arrangement would crumble.
  • The key Black Sea port of Mykolaiv was hit over the weekend by “one of the most brutal shellings” since the war began, Zelensky said after dozens of Russian rockets destroyed homes, schools and infrastructure. Among those killed in the city was one of Ukraine’s richest business executives, who founded an agriculture company that helped facilitate the country’s grain exports.
  • The success of grain exports going forward will depend on the United Nations and Turkey, which helped broker the deal with Russia, ensuring safe passage of ships from ports such as Odessa and Mykolaiv, Zelensky said late Monday.
  • Ukraine on Monday confirmed the delivery of precision multiple-launch rocket systems from Germany, bolstering a growing arsenal that has been credited with destroying dozens of strategically important Russian targets. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht recently said that an initial delivery of German Gepard antiaircraft weapons has arrived in Ukraine and that Germany is sending more self-propelled howitzers than initially planned. Several German IRIS-T air defense systems are also slated for delivery in the autumn.
  • The White House on Monday announced an additional $550 million in security assistance for Ukraine. The latest package will include ammunition for howitzer and high-mobility rocket systems, or HIMARS, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing. The United States has now provided about $8.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine during the Biden administration. The European Union also announced that $1 billion in aid will be delivered to Ukraine by Tuesday.
  • Brittney Griner is due back in a Russian court Tuesday, where she will make her first appearance since the United States publicly acknowledged it had proposed a prisoner exchange to free the WNBA star, along with security consultant Paul Whelan. Griner faces charges of cannabis possession, and U.S. officials say there has been no major progress on securing her release since they proposed the swap.

Battlefield updates

  • The Ukrainian army has liberated 46 settlements in the southern region of Kherson from Russian control, the province’s governor, Dmytro Butrii, said Monday. Many of the villages have been almost completely destroyed and are still coming under fire, he said. The region, home to the first major city to fall to Russian troops, is the site of a fierce Ukrainian counteroffensive that analysts have said is gaining momentum.
  • Finger-pointing continues over an attack on a detention center in Russian-occupied Donetsk that killed 50 Ukrainian prisoners. Russia claimed that it invited international monitors to investigate the Olenivka prison site, but the International Committee of the Red Cross said its request to do so has not been granted, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
  • Russia is making slow progress in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, probably a result of redirecting forces to southern Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence update Monday. Ukraine’s military intelligence agency reported that Russia has been moving “a large number of troops” to Crimea and Kherson from front lines in the east.
  • Ukraine reports casualties following a strike by Russian forces in Kharkiv. Oleh Synyehubov, the regional governor, confirmed the attack on Telegram, saying that at least one person was killed and another injured in shelling that targeted Kharkiv’s Saltivskyi District early Monday.
  • Overnight Russian shelling destroyed part of a trauma center in Mykolaiv, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said Monday as he posted photos purporting to show the scale of destruction on his official Telegram channel. Recent Russian attacks have also obliterated homes and killed civilians, Ukrainian officials said.

Global impact

  • U.N. Secretary General António Guterres issued a dire warning Monday about the risks of a nuclear catastrophe: “Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” said Guterres. Speaking at a U.N. conference, he cited Russia’s war in Ukraine as one of the primary reasons that the world is living through “a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.”
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Monday announced his plans to vote against admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO, a posture at odds with virtually all of his Senate colleagues from both parties. In a piece for the National Interest, which Hawley’s office blasted out to reporters, the senator argues that the United States needs to prioritize standing up to “Chinese imperialism” over Russian aggression.
  • Tensions flared between Kosovo and Serbia over the weekend, raising concerns about the possibility of fresh unrest in the Balkans at a time when Western allies are focused on the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months has tried to justify his invasion by citing the Western Balkans, pointing to the legacy of the 1999 NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia. But Kosovo’s president, Vjosa Osmani, sees an altogether different parallel, writes Ishaan Tharoor in Today’s WorldView newsletter.

From our correspondents

As Putin squeezes gas supplies, Germany is falling back on coal. The last coal pits around Bexbach, Germany, were closed a decade ago, leaving the power plant puffing plumes of pollutants as a relic of a dying regional industry. But now plant equipment is being repaired, contractors have come out of retirement, and manager Michael Lux is faced with a novel prospect: expanding the head count, The Post’s Loveday Morris and Vanessa Guinan-Bank write.

The push is part of a Pan-European dash to ditch Russian natural gas and escape Putin’s energy chokehold. While the war in Ukraine has simultaneously turbocharged the European Union’s race to renewables, fossil fuels still provide the quickest fix.

Hassan reported from London, Fahim from Istanbul, Nichols from Seoul and Taylor and Thebault from Washington. Florian Neuhof in Berlin contributed to this report.