Ukraine latest: deal to resume grain exports to be signed Friday

Russian troops continued their advance on Vuhlehirska power station in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s military said in a statement Friday.
Image: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

An accord to resume shipments of Ukraine’s grain through the Black Sea is expected to be signed on Friday after months of disruptions raised prices and prompted warnings of a global food crisis.

Wheat prices slipped after Turkey announced Thursday that it had brokered a deal. The United Nations secretary-general is traveling to Istanbul for the signing. The US welcomed the agreement but expressed skepticism the Kremlin would abide by its terms after blocking Ukraine’s grain exports for months.

Russia added five European countries including Greece, Denmark and Croatia, to its list of “unfriendly states,” restricting hiring at their diplomatic missions. European gas prices rose early in the day despite the resumption of Russian supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline due to uncertainty over a turbine caught up in sanctions.

Key developments

  • Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Ukrainian Land by September
  • Russia Rises Alongside China in Latest Japan Threat Assessment
  • Germany in Final Stage of Bailout Deal for Russia-Hit Uniper
  • Banned in Europe, Kremlin-Backed RT Channel Turns to Africa

On the ground

Russian troops continued their advance on Vuhlehirska power station in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s military said in a statement Friday. At least five people were killed and 10 wounded in Donetsk over the past 24 hours, with Russian troops also striking the city of Kramatorsk. Elsewhere, Russian troops struck Dniptopetrovsk in the southeast. Fighting continued in Luhansk, where Russian forces are pushing to capture the remaining Ukrainian holdouts.

(All times CET)

Russia Lists 5 “Unfriendly” European States (8:29 a.m.)

Russia added Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Slovenia and Slovakia to a list of “unfriendly states”, according to the Russian government’s website.

The measure restricts hiring at embassies and consulates in Russia. According to the new order, Greece has a limit of 34 people, for Denmark it’s 20, for Slovakia 16. Slovenia and Croatia will not be able hire employees in their diplomatic missions and consular offices in Russia.

Germany Nears Bailout for Russia-Hit Uniper (8:16 a.m.)

The German government is in the final stages of a deal to bail out Uniper SE, prevent the collapse of a key energy provider after Russia moved to slash gas supplies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration will get a stake of between 25% and 30% in a capital increase, with a nominal price of 1.70 euros a share, according to people familiar with the situation. Senior officials in the German government will discuss the package on Friday and an agreement could be announced later, they said.

Europe Gas Up on Nord Stream Uncertainty (7:42 a.m.)

European natural gas prices rose as Russian supply through a major pipeline remained at the center of traders’ attention despite shipments remaining stable for a second day.

Russian shipments via the key Nord Stream pipeline restarted Thursday and flows are expected to stay at about 40% of capacity on Friday. Focus is turning to next week, with Putin warning shipments could decline to 20% of capacity if a turbine that’s stuck in transit isn’t received in time to replace another that needs maintenance.

Kremlin-Backed RT Turns to Africa (7:51 a.m.)

RT, the Kremlin-backed TV network formerly called Russia Today, is setting up its first Africa bureau as President Vladimir Putin seeks to entrench support in a continent that’s largely refrained from criticizing his invasion of Ukraine.

The company said in a response to a query that it’s “currently focused on developing our English-language Africa hub in South Africa,” which will be headed up by Paula Slier, a South African broadcaster who ran RT’s Jerusalem bureau.

The entry into Africa contrasts with bans on RT put in place by the European Union, the UK and Canada shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. RT countered in a June court appeal that the EU was illegally silencing its journalists.

Ships That Hauled Iran Oil Take Russian (5:12 a.m.)

Oil tankers that previously carried Iranian oil are switching to haul Russian crude, according to shipping analytics company Vortexa.

Eleven of the tracked ships that previously carried Iranian crude have loaded Russian oil and products since April, accounting for 16 loadings in that period, according to a note dated July 21. Most of the vessels are smaller aframaxes, which can typically haul 730,000 barrels, the analytics company said.

Turkey Says Grain Accord to be Inked Friday (8:02 p.m.)

An accord to allow shipments of Ukraine’s grain will be signed on Friday in Istanbul by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the UN, according to a statement from the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be attending, according to the statement. Ukraine’s grain shipments have been largely stalled as its ports have been blocked since the Russian invasion, contributing to predictions of a surge in world hunger.

The US National Security Council said in a statement that “we are hopeful though realistic about the prospects for re-opening Ukraine’s agricultural exports given how Russia has been blocking exports throughout the war, exacerbating global food insecurity. Success in ending Russia’s blockade will of course depend not only on Russia agreeing to a deal, but on Russia actually implementing it.”

© 2022 Bloomberg

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