Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv on Thursday as the conflict with Russia approached the six-month mark with no end in sight.
The trip marks Erdogan’s first visit to Ukraine since Feb. 3, and it was the second visit for Guterres. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the three leaders would discuss the situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine as fighting nearby continues to rage. They were also expected to discuss grain exports.
Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 12 in Russia’s Wednesday missile attack on Kharkiv that left at least 20 others injured, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service reported Thursday. Zelenskyy branded the attack as “despicable and cynical.”
One person also died in Russia recent attack on Mykolaiv, a southern Ukrainian city considered an important transportation hub for the country. Two others were injured, said Mykolaiv’s mayor, Oleksandr Sienkevych, who reported explosions in the city Thursday afternoon local time.
► Russia is prepared to cease operations of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine “If the situation with Ukrainian shelling continues to develop negatively,” said Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been under Russian control as a military base since early March.
► Mariupol’s minister of education and four school principals are suspected of treason, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine said. They’re accused of cooperating with Russian occupation authorities in Mariupol and heading “a pseudo-organization that organizes the educational process in the city,” the office said.
► Russian and Ukrainian officials acknowledged Tuesday that an ammunition dump exploded in northern Crimea, the UK Ministry of Defense said. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Tuesday’s explosions on “sabotage”. A senior Ukrainian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the New York Times an elite unit was responsible. Kyiv said the explosions destroyed nine Russian airplanes.
US-based nonprofit Off-The-Grid Missions is providing life-saving survival tools to thousands in Ukraine’s deaf community living in the midst of war, including solar-powered lights, cellphone chargers, drinking-water filters and evacuations run by deaf or hard-of-hearing people.
“When a hearing person says to people, ‘go, go, go,’ Deaf people miss this small window of opportunity to flee,” Off-The-Grid founder Angela Maria Nardolillo told USA TODAY via email. “Deaf are the first to get cut off from vital information and the last to get help.”
Off-The-Grid’s presence in Ukraine reflects a growing understanding among the disaster-response community that the unique needs of people with disabilities must be prioritized in preparation plans.
The 25th grain-carrying cargo ship has left Ukraine under a Turkey and United Nations-brokered deal with Russia to unblock Ukraine’s ports, according to Agence France-Presse. The ship I Maria, loaded with 33,000 tons of corn, departed from the port of Chornomorsk, said Ukraine’s port authority in a statement. It is expected to reach Egypt in a few days.
Last month, 600,000 tons of Ukrainian agricultural products were shipped in Istanbul through a Moscow and Kyiv-agreed corridor, according to the ports authority. “So far, 25 ships with Ukrainian products (have) left the ports of Odessa, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk for the Bosphorus Strait,” the ports authority said.
The grain agreement, through which the first commercial grain-carrying ship departed on Aug. 1, lifted Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports, establishing safe corridors through the naval mines laid by Kiev, according to Agence France-Presse. Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s largest grain-exporting countries.
The head of a Kremlin-backed separatist group in Ukraine’s Donbas region is seeking cooperation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid signals the reclusive Asian country would consider sending workers to help rebuild Russian-occupied areas.
Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin expressed hope that the province and North Korea could achieve “equally beneficial bilateral cooperation agreeing with the interests” of their people, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.
Only three countries – Russia, Syria, and North Korea – have recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, the oblasts that make up the eastern Donbas region. North Korea is reportedly also having cooperation talks with Luhansk.
Contributing: The Associated Press