Russia-Ukraine war: Putin and Erdoğan hold talks in Sochi; three grain ships depart Ukraine – live – The Guardian


From 4h ago

Ukraine says Russian shelling hit power line at nuclear power plant

Ukraine says Russian shelling has hit a power line at its Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said a high-voltage power line at the power plant had been hit by Russian shelling on Friday, but that the plant still worked and no radioactive discharges had been detected.

The plant is in Russian-controlled territory.

The statement came shortly after the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Ukrainian city of Enerhodar said power lines at the plant had been damaged by a Ukrainian strike.

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Here’s a summary of the day’s main developments.

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  • Ukraine has accused Russian forces of strikes near a nuclear reactor at the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the country’s southeast, which has been occupied since the early days of the invasion. Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run operator of the country’s nuclear power plants, said in a statement: “Three strikes were recorded on the site of the plant, near one of the power blocks where the nuclear reactor is located.”
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  • Vladimir Putin has met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks that were expected to focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and that are being rumoured to include Kremlin efforts to circumvent western sanctions. Putin welcomed Erdoğan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, by thanking the Turkish president for help in securing an international deal that resumed exports of grain from Ukraine that had been disrupted by the Kremlin war machine – as well as Russian foodstuffs and fertilisers – to world markets. They agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture, finance and construction industries, they said in a joint statement after a four-hour meeting.
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  • Three ships carrying almost 60,000 tonnes of grain between them have departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said he plans “to ensure ports have the ability to handle more than 100 vessels per month”.
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  • Russia says it is ready to talk about a prisoner swap with the US following yesterday’s nine-year jail sentence for US basketball player Brittney Griner. However, the Kremlin says any such negotiations should not be played out publicly.
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  • Amnesty International has said it stands by its accusation that Ukraine is endangering civilians by creating army bases in residential areas to counter Russian forces, after a report from the rights group prompted a furious response from Kyiv. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, criticised Amnesty over the report published on Thursday, saying the rights group was drawing a false equivalence between Ukraine as victim of aggression and the Russian invaders.
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  • The UK’s ministry of defence has raised concerns about the “security and safety” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control. It says Russia has “used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river”.
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  • An EU plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency said on Friday. Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.
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  • Canada is sending up to 225 Canadian armed forces to the UK to recommence the training of Ukrainian military recruits, the Canadian defence minister has announced. Since 2015, Canada has trained 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel but in February paused aspects of the training.
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  • A US official has accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, last week.
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  • A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled TASS news agency reported on Friday. Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute’s website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems, Reuters reports.
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We’re closing this liveblog now. Thanks so much for joining us.

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Vladimir Putin has met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks expected to focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and that are being rumoured to include Kremlin efforts to circumvent western sanctions.

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Putin welcomed Erdoğan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, by thanking the Turkish president for help in securing an international deal that resumed exports of grain from Ukraine that had been disrupted by the Kremlin war machine – as well as Russian foodstuffs and fertilisers – to world markets.

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The deal ended a standoff that had threatened a global food crisis, as Ukraine and Russia are some of the world’s largest exporters of grain. Another three ships carrying almost 60,000 tonnes of grain between them departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Friday and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively.

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“This is a very pressing problem for many countries, first and foremost, the developing ones that are on the brink of big problems with food and fertiliser supply. The decisions made with your direct participation are very important for all these countries,” Putin told Erdoğan as their closed-door meetings began.

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But reports have warned that the meeting may serve an ulterior motive. A Ukrainian government report described by the Washington Post said Putin would seek Russian stakes in Turkish oil refineries, terminals and reservoirs in order to help disguise the origin of Russian oil exports ahead of a planned EU oil embargo. The newspaper also reported that Russia could seek correspondent accounts for large Russian banks to circumvent financial sanctions.

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The Russian government did not confirm the report and there was no indication that Turkey would entertain the proposals, which would put the Nato member at considerable risk of secondary sanctions.

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At least publicly, economic cooperation led the agenda at the talks. Putin noted that the TurkStream pipeline had continued operating “smoothly … in contrast to every other route supplying our hydrocarbons”. Erdoğan brought up plans for a nuclear power plant to be built with Russian help.

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Read more here:

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Ukraine says Russian shelling has hit a power line at its Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

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Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said a high-voltage power line at the power plant had been hit by Russian shelling on Friday, but that the plant still worked and no radioactive discharges had been detected.

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The plant is in Russian-controlled territory.

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The statement came shortly after the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Ukrainian city of Enerhodar said power lines at the plant had been damaged by a Ukrainian strike.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has said that meetings between Turkish and Russian delegations had been fruitful and that he would discuss developments in Syria and Ukraine with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to Reuters news agency.

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Erdoğan made the comments while sitting opposite Putin ahead of their talks in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

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It’s 11am in London and 1pm in Kyiv. Here’s a summary of the day’s main developments so far:

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  • Three ships carrying almost 60,000 tonnes of grain between them have departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said he plans “to ensure ports have the ability to handle more than 100 vessels per month”.
  • \n

  • Russia says it is ready to talk about a prisoner swap with the US following yesterday’s nine-year jail sentence for US basketball player Brittney Griner. However, the Kremlin says any such negotiations should not be played out publicly.
  • \n

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has criticised yesterday’s report by Amnesty International – which suggested Ukrainian forces’ tactics are endangering civilians by using some schools and hospitals as bases. Zelenskiy said the report “cannot be tolerated” as there “cannot be any condition under which any Russian attack on Ukraine becomes justified”.
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  • The UK’s ministry of defence has raised concerns about the “security and safety” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control. It says Russia has “used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river”.
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  • Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdoğan are scheduled to meet later today in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Talks between the presidents of Russia and Turkey are expected to focus on Syria, Ukraine and the Russian construction of a nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.
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  • Canada is sending up to 225 Canadian armed forces to the UK to recommence the training of Ukrainian military recruits, the Canadian defence minister has announced. Since 2015, Canada has trained 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel but in February paused aspects of the training.
  • \n

  • A US official has accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, last week.
  • \n

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That’s it from me, I’m now handing over to my colleague Nicola Slawson.

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Yesterday, a Russian court convicted the US basketball player Brittney Griner on drug charges, sentencing her to nine years in prison and a 1m rouble fine in a politically charged verdict expected to lead to a prisoner swap with the US.

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US president Joe Biden released a statement following Griner’s sentencing, calling her detention “unacceptable” and demanding she be released.

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Now, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has confirmed Russia would be willing to discuss a prisoner swap, but not publicly.

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Speaking at the East Asia summit in Cambodia, Lavrov said:

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We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden.

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If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy… that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem.

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Three ships carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of grain have now left Ukrainian ports, according to the Turkish defence ministry and the Reuters news agency.

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These departures follow an internationally brokered deal to unblock Ukraine’s agricultural exports and ease a growing global food crisis.

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Two of the ships set off from Chornomorsk and the other departed from nearby Odesa. In total, Reuters said, they are carrying about 58,000 tonnes of corn.

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On Twitter, Turkey’s defence ministry said the Panama-flagged Navistar, carrying 33,000 tonnes of corn, was bound for Ireland.

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It added that the Maltese-flagged Rojen, carrying 13,000 tonnes of corn, was heading for the UK.

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The Turkish-flagged ship Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tonnes of corn, is on course for the Turkish Black Sea port of Karasu.

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ships carrying grain leave Ukrainian ports","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Fri 5 Aug 2022 19.07 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Fri 5 Aug 2022 05.42 BST"},{"id":"62ecb2e38f08cf33fef35893","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

In its daily intelligence briefing, the UK’s Ministry of Defence focuses on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian control since March.

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It says that while Russia’s intentions for the plant remain unclear, “the actions they have undertaken at the facility have likely undermined the security and safety of the plant’s normal operations”.

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The MoD adds:

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Russian forces are probably operating in the regions adjacent to the power station and have used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river.

\n

Russian forces have probably used the wider facility area, in particular the adjacent city of Enerhodar, to rest their forces, utilising the protected status of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk to their equipment and personnel from overnight Ukrainian attacks.

\n

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Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 5 August 2022

Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/8Uv3JnpVgm

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/lck9qAjhqM

&mdash; Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) August 5, 2022

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A team of inspectors in Turkey on Friday began checking an empty cargo ship before it heads off to collect grain from the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk under a deal to restart Ukrainian grain exports, the Turkish Defence Ministry has said.

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The ministry published photos on Twitter showing the inspection team boarding a boat to head out to the Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S, which was at anchor in the Black Sea just to the north of Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait.

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Ukrayna’nın Çernomorsk Limanı’ndan tahıl almaya gitmek üzere İstanbul’un kuzeyindeki demir yerinde bulunan Barbados bandıralı FULMAR S isimli boş geminin Müşterek Koordinasyon Merkezi timi tarafından denetimine başlanmıştır. pic.twitter.com/hItI1XYVsb

&mdash; T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) August 5, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/tcsavunma/status/1555396653468815362","id":"1555396653468815362","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"3df96988-798b-43c5-9a3d-7ffd14c1fa6e"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1659676292000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"06.11 BST","blockLastUpdated":1659678073000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"06.41 BST","blockFirstPublished":1659676532000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"06.15 BST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"06.15","title":"Inspectors begin checking cargo ship in Black Sea","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Fri 5 Aug 2022 19.07 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Fri 5 Aug 2022 05.42 BST"},{"id":"62ec70328f087e2e93c7178d","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Good morning and welcome back to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These are the latest developments

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    \n

  • Ukraine has ceded some territory in the Donbas region to Russian forces, with Kyiv acknowledging Russia’s “partial success” in recent days. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has described the pressure his forces are under in the east of the country as “hell”. They have recaptured two villages near the city of Sloviansk, according to Ukrainian general Oleksiy Hromov, but have been forced to abandon a coal mine regarded as a key defensive position as forces are pushed to the outskirts of Avdiivka.
  • \n

  • Russia may launch an offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson to try to wrest back momentum from Kyiv and has been visibly building up forces, Hromov said on Thursday. Much of the region is already occupied by Russia after it captured areas at the beginning of its invasion, but Ukrainian forces have been developing a counter-offensive to regain territory.
  • \n

  • Three more ships carrying grain have been authorised to leave Ukraine’s ports on Friday as part of an international accord brokered to unblock grain exports and alleviate the global food crisis. The ships are bound for Turkey, Ireland and the UK. Millions of tonnes of grain have been stuck in Ukraine since Russia invaded just over six months ago.
  • \n

  • Ukraine will receive another financing package worth about $8bn from the European Union by September, a German government source told Reuters.
  • \n

  • Canada is sending up to 225 Canadian armed forces to the UK to recommence the training of Ukrainian military recruits, the Canadian defence minister has announced. Since 2015, Canada has trained 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel but in February paused aspects of the training.
  • \n

  • Eight people have been killed and four wounded in Russian artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toretsk in Donetsk oblast on Thursday, the regional governor has said. The shelling hit a public transport stop where people had gathered. Three children were among the wounded, said the area’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
  • \n

  • Nato members are working closely with defence companies to ensure Ukraine gets more supplies of weapons and equipment to be prepared for a drawn out war with Russia, the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday. He told Reuters in an interview: “We are providing a lot of support but we need to do even more and be prepared for the long haul.”
  • \n

  • A US official accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, last week.
  • \n

  • Amnesty International has said the Ukrainian army is endangering the life of civilians by basing themselves in residential areas. The report has been rejected by Ukrainian government representatives, who say it places blame on Ukraine for Russia’s invasion. The human rights group’s researchers found that Ukrainian forces were using some schools and hospitals as bases, firing near houses and sometimes living in residential flats. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, accused Amnesty of “distorting the real picture” and of failing to understand the situation on the ground.
  • \n

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Key events

End of day summary

Here’s a summary of the day’s main developments.

  • Ukraine has accused Russian forces of strikes near a nuclear reactor at the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the country’s southeast, which has been occupied since the early days of the invasion. Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run operator of the country’s nuclear power plants, said in a statement: “Three strikes were recorded on the site of the plant, near one of the power blocks where the nuclear reactor is located.”
  • Vladimir Putin has met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks that were expected to focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and that are being rumoured to include Kremlin efforts to circumvent western sanctions. Putin welcomed Erdoğan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, by thanking the Turkish president for help in securing an international deal that resumed exports of grain from Ukraine that had been disrupted by the Kremlin war machine – as well as Russian foodstuffs and fertilisers – to world markets. They agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture, finance and construction industries, they said in a joint statement after a four-hour meeting.
  • Three ships carrying almost 60,000 tonnes of grain between them have departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said he plans “to ensure ports have the ability to handle more than 100 vessels per month”.
  • Russia says it is ready to talk about a prisoner swap with the US following yesterday’s nine-year jail sentence for US basketball player Brittney Griner. However, the Kremlin says any such negotiations should not be played out publicly.
  • Amnesty International has said it stands by its accusation that Ukraine is endangering civilians by creating army bases in residential areas to counter Russian forces, after a report from the rights group prompted a furious response from Kyiv. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, criticised Amnesty over the report published on Thursday, saying the rights group was drawing a false equivalence between Ukraine as victim of aggression and the Russian invaders.
  • The UK’s ministry of defence has raised concerns about the “security and safety” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control. It says Russia has “used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river”.
  • An EU plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency said on Friday. Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.
  • Canada is sending up to 225 Canadian armed forces to the UK to recommence the training of Ukrainian military recruits, the Canadian defence minister has announced. Since 2015, Canada has trained 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel but in February paused aspects of the training.
  • A US official has accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, last week.
  • A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled TASS news agency reported on Friday. Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute’s website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems, Reuters reports.

We’re closing this liveblog now. Thanks so much for joining us.

Vladimir Putin and the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdoğan, agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture, finance and construction industries, they said in a joint statement after a four-hour meeting.

Turkey mediated a deal signed by Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations in Istanbul last month under which grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports resumed after months of being blocked, Reuters reports.

In the statement, Putin and Erdoğan stressed the need for “the full implementation of the Istanbul agreement, including the unimpeded export of Russia’s grain, fertiliser and raw materials for their production.”

The two leaders also agreed to switch part of the payments for Russian gas to roubles, Russian deputy prime minister, Alexander Novak, told reporters after the talks.

The two also “reaffirmed their determination to act in coordination and solidarity in the fight against all terrorist organizations” in Syria.

Ankara has carried out multiple operations in northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometres of land and targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, despite opposition from Moscow.

Updated at 19.07 BST

Russian President Vladimir Putin waves Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he leaves after their talks at the Rus sanatorium in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Erdogan visited Russia Friday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin focusing on a grain deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N., prospects for talks on ending hostilities in Ukraine, the situation in Syria and growing economic ties between Moscow and Ankara. (Vyacheslav Prokofyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian president, Vladimir Putin, waves Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, off as he leaves after their talks in Sochi, Russia. Photograph: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/AP

Updated at 19.00 BST

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of strikes near a nuclear reactor at the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the country’s southeast, which has been occupied since the early days of the invasion.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run operator of the country’s nuclear power plants, said in a statement:

Three strikes were recorded on the site of the plant, near one of the power blocks where the nuclear reactor is located.

There are risks of hydrogen leakage and radioactive spraying. The fire danger is high,” it said, adding that initially there were no casualties.

The global nuclear watchdog IAEA has been trying for weeks to send a team to inspect the plant. Ukraine has so far rejected the efforts, which it says would legitimise Russia’s occupation of the site in the eyes of the international community, AFP reports.

The Zaporizhzhia plant in southeast Ukraine is the largest in Europe. Russian troops took control of it in March after the invasion began in late February.

On Monday, US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, accused Moscow of using the plant as a “military base to fire at Ukrainians, knowing that they can’t and won’t shoot back because they might accidentally strike a nuclear … reactor or highly radioactive waste in storage”.

Updated at 19.05 BST

Here are some of the latest images sent to us from Ukraine over the news wires.

Employees remove debris of a wheat storage damaged by a Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia RegionEmployees remove debris of a wheat storage damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Zaporizhzhia Region, Ukraine August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Dmytro Smolienko
Employees remove debris of a wheat storage damaged by a Russian missile strike in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. Photograph: Reuters
Two women pump water out of a well in the courtyard of an apartment complex in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. The city has no running water as artillery and missile strikes have downed power lines and punched through water pipes, leaving many in the area without electricity or water. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Two women pump water out of a well in the courtyard of an apartment complex in Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: David Goldman/AP
Firefighters extinguish a fire on the roof of a railway station in DonetskFirefighters extinguish a fire on the roof of a railway station following recent shelling during Ukraine-Russia conflict in Donetsk, Ukraine August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Firefighters extinguish a fire on the roof of a railway station following recent shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Nina Stepanova from Bakhmut, boards a train during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, in PokrovskNina Stepanova, 72, from Bakhmut, boards a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Nina Stepanova, 72, from Bakhmut, boards a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
Volunteer of the NGO “Vostok SOS” Mykola Sirenko, waits to assist in the evacuation of a citizen, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Bakhmut, Ukraine, August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
NGO volunteer Mykola Sirenko waits to assist in the evacuation of a citizen in Bakhmut, Ukraine. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
A man receives food at a humanitarian aid distribution point in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
A man receives food at a humanitarian aid distribution point in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/AP
Galina Pryhodko and her sister Iryna, from Bakhmut, wait to board a train in Pokrovsk, Ukraine.
Galina Pryhodko and her sister Iryna, from Bakhmut, wait to board a train in Pokrovsk, Ukraine. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Ukraine could start exporting wheat from this year’s harvest from its sea ports in September under a landmark deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, Ukraine’s first deputy minister of agriculture said on Friday.

Ukraine hopes in several months to increase shipments of grain through the route to between 3m and 3.5m tonnes per month from 1m tonnes expected in August, the official, Taras Vysotskiy, said, Reuters reports.

Such volumes will allow Ukraine to receive enough funds so it does not have to reduce its sowing plans, the official said.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant near EnerhodarA serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Full story: Putin and Erdoğan meet for secretive talks in Sochi

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth

Vladimir Putin has met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks expected to focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and that are being rumoured to include Kremlin efforts to circumvent western sanctions.

Putin welcomed Erdoğan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, by thanking the Turkish president for help in securing an international deal that resumed exports of grain from Ukraine that had been disrupted by the Kremlin war machine – as well as Russian foodstuffs and fertilisers – to world markets.

The deal ended a standoff that had threatened a global food crisis, as Ukraine and Russia are some of the world’s largest exporters of grain. Another three ships carrying almost 60,000 tonnes of grain between them departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Friday and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively.

“This is a very pressing problem for many countries, first and foremost, the developing ones that are on the brink of big problems with food and fertiliser supply. The decisions made with your direct participation are very important for all these countries,” Putin told Erdoğan as their closed-door meetings began.

But reports have warned that the meeting may serve an ulterior motive. A Ukrainian government report described by the Washington Post said Putin would seek Russian stakes in Turkish oil refineries, terminals and reservoirs in order to help disguise the origin of Russian oil exports ahead of a planned EU oil embargo. The newspaper also reported that Russia could seek correspondent accounts for large Russian banks to circumvent financial sanctions.

The Russian government did not confirm the report and there was no indication that Turkey would entertain the proposals, which would put the Nato member at considerable risk of secondary sanctions.

At least publicly, economic cooperation led the agenda at the talks. Putin noted that the TurkStream pipeline had continued operating “smoothly … in contrast to every other route supplying our hydrocarbons”. Erdoğan brought up plans for a nuclear power plant to be built with Russian help.

Read more here:

Ukraine says Russian shelling hit power line at nuclear power plant

Ukraine says Russian shelling has hit a power line at its Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said a high-voltage power line at the power plant had been hit by Russian shelling on Friday, but that the plant still worked and no radioactive discharges had been detected.

The plant is in Russian-controlled territory.

The statement came shortly after the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Ukrainian city of Enerhodar said power lines at the plant had been damaged by a Ukrainian strike.

Amnesty International has said it stands by its accusation that Ukraine is endangering civilians by creating army bases in residential areas to counter Russian forces, after a report from the rights group prompted a furious response from Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, criticised Amnesty over the report published on Thursday, saying the rights group was drawing a false equivalence between Ukraine as victim of aggression and the Russian invaders.

Amnesty “fully stands by our research,” the organisation’s secretary general Agnes Callamard told AFP in emailed comments.

She added:

The findings… were based on evidence gathered during extensive investigations which were subject to the same rigorous standards and due diligence processes as all of Amnesty International’s work.

Amnesty’s report said Ukrainian forces were violating international law and endangering civilians by establishing bases in residential areas, including in schools and hospitals.

Residential areas where Ukrainian soldiers based themselves were miles away from frontlines, and “viable alternatives” were available that would not endanger civilians, the report said.

But Zelenskiy accused Amnesty of trying to shift “the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”.

He said:

If someone makes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are supposedly equal in some way… then this cannot be tolerated.

Callamard however expressed concern that the Ukraine government’s “reaction risks chilling legitimate and important discussion of these topics”.

She said that the Ukrainian government did not respond to Amnesty’s request for a response to its findings and also emphasised that the group had issued multiple reports “documenting war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.”

Britain’s ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons also appeared to criticise Amnesty on Twitter, saying: “If Russia stopped invading Ukraine there would be no danger.”

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The only things endangering 🇺🇦 civilians are🇷🇺missiles and guns and marauding Russian troops. Full stop. If Russia stopped invading #Ukraine there would be no danger.

&mdash; Melinda Simmons (@MelSimmonsFCDO) August 5, 2022

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The only things endangering 🇺🇦 civilians are🇷🇺missiles and guns and marauding Russian troops. Full stop. If Russia stopped invading #Ukraine there would be no danger.

— Melinda Simmons (@MelSimmonsFCDO) August 5, 2022

Adding to the controversy, the head of Amnesty’s Ukraine office Oksana Pokalchuk, wrote in a statement on Facebook that Amnesty had ignored her team’s pleas not to publish the report.

Amnesty’s Ukraine office would not translate the report into Ukrainian or upload the material on its Ukrainian website, she added.

Callamard said that it was not appropriate at the current moment to comment on “inaccuracies” in Pokalchuk’s statement but emphasised that its report “underwent a full internal review process” where Amnesty Ukraine could raise any concerns.

Updated at 16.58 BST

An EU plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency said on Friday.

Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.

Officials have since been working on the legal texts of the plan, which will be voluntary unless the member states agree to give the European Commission emergency powers.

The EU’s rotating presidency, held by the Czech Republic, announced on Friday the European council – which represents member states – had formally adopted the plan.

The presidency said:

The text will be published in the official journal at the beginning of next week and will enter into force one day after the publication.

A diplomatic source told AFP that publication would take place on Monday and the plan would come into effect on Tuesday.

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain since Russia’s invasion is expected to dock in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Sunday, state media and Ukraine’s embassy said.

The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni set sail from the Ukrainian port of Odessa last Monday carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn and stopped in Turkey the next day where it was inspected.

The delivery is the first under a UN-backed deal, brokered with the help of Turkey last month, which aims to ease a global food crisis.

The ship is scheduled to reach Tripoli on Sunday morning, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) said.

“Its arrival is expected at 10 am (local time) at the port of Tripoli,” a Ukraine embassy spokesperson told AFP.

Kyiv said another 16 ships loaded with grain are waiting to depart, three of which set off on Friday.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, has resumed the exports following the deal, which seeks to release millions of tonnes of trapped Ukrainian produce to world markets.

A similar agreement guarantees Russia can export produce and fertilisers despite Western sanctions.

Russian President Putin meets with Turkish President Erdogan in SochiRussian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia August 5, 2022. Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian president Vladimir Putin welcomes Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia on Friday. Photograph: SPUTNIK/Reuters

Putin has thanked Erdoğan for Turkey’s role in helping orchestrate the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments.

“Deliveries have already begun, I want to thank you both for this and for the fact that at the same time an accompanying decision was made on uninterrupted supplies of Russian food and fertilisers to world markets,” Putin said.

Putin and Erdoğan sit down for talks

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has said that meetings between Turkish and Russian delegations had been fruitful and that he would discuss developments in Syria and Ukraine with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to Reuters news agency.

Erdoğan made the comments while sitting opposite Putin ahead of their talks in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

Nina Stepanova is evacuated by volunteers of the NGO “Vostok SOS”, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in BakhmutNina Stepanova, 72, is evacuated by volunteers of the NGO “Vostok SOS”, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Bakhmut, Ukraine, August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Nina Stepanova, 72, is evacuated by volunteers of the NGO “Vostok SOS” in Bakhmut, Ukraine. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled TASS news agency reported on Friday.

Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute’s website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems, Reuters reports.

The Russian news agency cited one of Shiplyuk’s colleagues as saying searches had been conducted at the institute.

Last month Dmitry Kolker, another Novosibirsk-based physicist, died of pancreatic cancer shortly after being arrested on suspicion of treason.

Russia has banned investors from so-called “unfriendly countries” from selling shares in certain strategic enterprises until the end of the year, a presidential decree signed by Vladimir Putin showed on Friday.

The ban also applies to stakes in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas development in Russia’s far east, Reuters reports.

Its operator, ExxonMobil, said this week it was in the process of transferring its 30% stake to another party.

Updated at 13.22 BST

Ways to halt the war in Ukraine and the possible launch of a new conflict in Syria are expected to dominate talks on Friday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Turkish leader was riding high from the diplomatic success of helping orchestrate the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments across the Black Sea when he took most of his top ministers to Sochi for his second round of talks with Putin in 17 days.

But there are tensions, AFP reports. Putin told Erdoğan in Tehran last month that Russia remains opposed to any new offensive that Turkey might be planning against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

Analysts believe these strains form part of the “competitive cooperation” that has defined the two leaders’ relationship over the past 20 years.

The two were expected to hold private talks and a working lunch but no joint press conference.

European Council on Foreign Relations fellow Asli Aydintasbas wrote in a report last week:

Russia’s war on Ukraine has restored Turkey’s self image as a key geopolitical player and given Erdoğan more visibility than at any time in the last few years.

Updated at 12.58 BST

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