Moscow is trying to curry favor at this week’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg, which Russian President Vladimir Putin — whom South Africa would be obligated to arrest because of an International Criminal Court warrant — is not attending in person. In a prerecorded video, Putin said Russia could replace Ukraine as a global grain supplier and bucked international criticism for pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The U.N.-backed deal allowed Ukraine to safely export grain by ship and was credited with alleviating a global food crisis.
A Russian airstrike destroyed a school Wednesday in Romny, a town in northeastern Ukraine, killing four people who were passing by the area, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry. Teachers and other school personnel are in session ahead of the start of the school year on Sept. 1.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
Iranian-made drones hit a grain storage and shipping facility near the Danube River in Ukraine’s southern Odessa region, according to Ukrainian officials early Wednesday. No casualties were reported in the latest Russian attack on Ukraine’s grain infrastructure. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Telegram that the overnight attack destroyed 13,000 tons of grain and reduced the port’s export capacity by 15 percent.
Russia said Ukraine was behind a drone attack that killed three people in the Belgorod region near the Russian-Ukrainian border. Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor, said the drones struck a sanatorium on Wednesday. Separately, the Moscow region was targeted with drones for a sixth consecutive night. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukraine on social media and said there were no casualties.
Disagreements over U.S. funding for the war in Ukraine are likely to dominate exchanges on foreign policy during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate. Former president Donald Trump, the party front-runner who will not attend the debate, has called for curtailing military aid, as have several other contenders for the GOP nomination. A majority of Republican voters think Washington should not authorize new funding, according to a recent CNN-SSRS poll.
Putin’s virtual speech focused extensively on the war in Ukraine and the East-West conflict, even though South African leaders previously said they did not want the subjects to dominate the summit, the Associated Press reported. The summit of the economic group — which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — continues through Thursday.
Six people were injured when Russian guided missiles hit a kindergarten and residential building in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday. Kyiv retook control of Kherson in November, ending an eight-month-long Russian occupation, but Moscow has continued to launch frequent air attacks. In the last day, Russian forces attacked 10 of Ukraine’s regions using grenade launchers, tanks, mortars and artillery, among other weapons, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Sergei Surovikin, once a highly regarded general close to Wagner Group boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin, has been fired from his position as Russian air force commander and reassigned elsewhere in the Defense Ministry, according to Russian Telegram channels and the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. Surovikin was credited with streamlining Russian operations in Ukraine but has not been seen publicly since Prigozhin launched an abortive mutiny in June. Prigozhin said this week that his guns-for-hire group is focusing on operations in Africa.
Nazis massacred his Ukrainian village in World War II. He fears Russia now. Fedir Bovkun and his wife Maria both narrowly escaped death when German soldiers massacred hundreds of people during World War II along the Ukrainian border with Belarus. They were 6 and 2 years old at the time, and today they are rare survivors, their lives bookended by two brutal wars on Ukrainian soil, Fredrick Kunkle and Sergii Mukaieliants report.
“We already know the feeling of such an ordeal,” said Fedir Bovkun, 86. “We’ve been through war, come through it with barely the clothes on our back. We don’t want any of it. We’re afraid — because it’s war.”