Russia accuses US of direct involvement in Ukraine conflict while the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since Moscow's onslaught leaves Istanbul as fighting enters its 161st day.

The continent's biggest economy has been scrambling for energy sources to fill a gap left by a reduction in gas supplies from Moscow.
The continent's biggest economy has been scrambling for energy sources to fill a gap left by a reduction in gas supplies from Moscow. (AP)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Sanctions make delivery of gas turbine impossible - Russia's Gazprom

Russian energy giant Gazprom has said that delivery of a turbine needed to keep gas flowing to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was "impossible" due to sanctions on Moscow.

"Sanctions regimes in Canada, in the European Union and in Britain, as well as the inconsistencies in the current situation concerning the contractual obligations of (turbine maker) Siemens make the delivery impossible," Gazprom said in a statement.

The statement risks further increasing concern in European countries who suspect Moscow is looking for an excuse to delay the turbine's return to Russia and further reduce its gas deliveries.

Ukraine says Russia creating strike force aimed at Zelenskyy's hometown

Ukraine has said that Russia had started creating a military strike force aimed at President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown of Kryvyi Rih and warned that Moscow could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine.

Russia holds swathes of Ukraine's south that it captured in the early phases of its February 24 offensive, but Kiev has said it will mount a counter-offensive. It said on Tuesday it had already recaptured 53 villages in occupied Kherson region.

The steel-producing city of Kryvyi Rih where Zelenskiy grew up lies around 50 km from the southern frontline.

"(Russia) has begun creating a strike group in the Kryvyi Rih direction. It's also quite likely that the enemy is preparing a hostile counter-offensive with the subsequent plan of getting to the administrative boundary of Kherson region," the southern military command said.

First Ukraine grain-carrying ship leaves Istanbul for Lebanon

The first grain-laden ship to leave Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began has passed an inspection in Istanbul and continued to sail to Lebanon, following a Türkiye-brokered deal.

The inspections by a team from the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul lasted over an hour on Wednesday.

Two boats carrying inspection personnel took off from a small fishing port in Istanbul's Rumeli Feneri towards the ship, which was circled by two coast guard boats while a helicopter flew around it.

Ukraine increases 2022 crop forecast to 65-67M tonnes of grain - PM

Ukraine's forecast for its wartime 2022 harvest has increased to 65-67 million tonnes of grain from 60 million tonnes, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said.

In a Telegram message, he praised farmers for pressing ahead with the harvest despite the war, even in areas where shelling continues.

Switzerland imposes sanctions on Russian gold in line with EU

Switzerland's Federal Council imposed further sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, in line with the European Union's latest measures on gold and gold products.

The Council said that it had made two new exceptions with respect to transactions related to agricultural products and oil supplies to third countries, which the EU has as well, in order to avoid any disruptions in payment channels. 

Moscow: Destroyed foreign arms depot in western Ukraine

Russia has said it had destroyed a depot of foreign arms near the city of Lviv, in a rare strike on western Ukraine.

"Air-launched high-precision long-range missiles near the city of Radekhiv in Lviv region destroyed a storage base with foreign-made weapons and ammunition delivered to the Kiev regime from Poland," the defence ministry said in its daily briefing.

Ukraine President Zelenskyy: China must not help Russia

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told Australian university students that China must not help Russia in its offensive against his homeland and remain at least neutral.

Zelenskyy addressed 21 Australian universities in an online discussion hosted by the Australian National University in Canberra. 

Questioned by a student about China’s stance, Zelenskyy said he would prefer Beijing join countries including the United States and Australia that have condemned the Russian attacks that began in February.

“As for now, China is balancing and indeed has neutrality and, I will be honest, this neutrality is better than China joining Russia,” Zelenskyy said.

UN nuclear chief: Ukraine nuclear plant is 'out of control'

The UN nuclear chief has warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilise the situation and avoid a nuclear accident.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the situation is getting more perilous every day at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar.

“Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant, he said. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”

Russia could use nuclear option against NATO's 'direct aggression'

The conflict in Ukraine does not warrant Russia's use of nuclear weapons, but Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to "direct aggression" by NATO countries over the conflict, Russia has said at the United Nations.

At a nuclear nonproliferation conference, Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov rejected "utterly unfounded, detached from reality and unacceptable speculations that Russia allegedly threatens to use nuclear weapons, particularly in Ukraine."

Trofimov, a senior diplomat in the non-proliferation and arms control department of Russia's Foreign Ministry, said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.

"None of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine," Trofimov told the UN conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

US sanctions Putin's 'girlfriend', more oligarchs

The United States has blacklisted Russian President Vladimir Putin's purported girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast, and the tycoon owner of the second-largest estate in London, Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev,  in the latest round of sanctions over the assault on Ukraine.

Also hit with US business bans were several other oligarchs believed to be close to Putin, four officials Russia has named to administer occupied territories in Ukraine, and around two dozen high technology institutes and companies, including key state-backed electronics entities.

Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, one of Russia's largest taxpayers, and two subsidiaries of his MMK, which is among the world's largest steel producers, also were hit with sanctions.

For live updates from Tuesday (August 2), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies