AS IT HAPPENED

Putin and Erdogan call for ‘full implementation’ of UN-backed grain deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia on August 5, 2022.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia on August 5, 2022. © Turkish Presidential Press Office, via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Friday for the “full implementation” of a UN-backed deal to resume grain shipments from Ukrainian Black Sea ports after a four-hour meeting in the Russian resort of Sochi. Moscow and Kyiv earlier traded blame for strikes at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Read about the day's events as they unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2). 

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10:24pm: Zelensky says Russia responsible for strikes at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday Russia must take responsibility for an "act of terror", after Kyiv and Moscow traded blame for strikes at Europe's largest nuclear plant.

Russia earlier accused Kyiv's forces of striking Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and charged that Zelensky's government was committing acts of "nuclear terrorism".

"Today, the occupiers have created another extremely risky situation for all of Europe: They struck the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant twice,” Zelensky said in his daily video address. "Any bombing of this site is a shameless crime, an act of terror."

"This is also an argument in favour of applying tough sanctions against the entire Russian nuclear industry – from (Russia's state-run nuclear company) Rosatom to all related companies and individuals."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week said that the situation at the nuclear power plant was "volatile".

Russian troops took control of the Zaporizhzhia plant in March.

7:50pm: Putin, Erdogan call for ‘full implementation’ of UN-backed grain deal, no mention of Ukraine war in post-talks statement 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Friday 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.  

While Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine was not explicitly mentioned in the statement, the leaders stressed the resumption of grain shipments, pointing to the two countries' "constructive relations" that they stressed made the agreement possible. 

In the statement, Putin and Erdogan stressed the need for "the full implementation of the Istanbul agreement”. 

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. 

Putin and Erdogan also "reaffirmed their determination to act in coordination and solidarity in the fight against all terrorist organisations" 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. 

7:12pm: Russia says it will impose entry bans on 62 Canadians in retaliatory move

Russia said on Friday it was imposing entry bans on 62 Canadian citizens including government officials in a retaliatory move.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that the list included figures known for "their malicious activity in the fight against the 'Russian world' and our traditional values".

7:02pm: Ukrainian power company says Russian shelling hit high-voltage line at nuclear plant; Moscow-backed authorities blame Ukraine

Ukraine's Energoatom state nuclear power company said a high-voltage power line at its Zaporizhzhia nuclear 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.

>> Russia accused of waging war out of working nuclear power plant in Ukraine

5:42pm: Amnesty says 'fully stands by' report on Ukraine criticised by Kyiv

Rights group Amnesty International on Friday said it fully stood by its accusations that Ukraine was endangering civilians by establishing bases in residential areas to counter the Russian invasion, after a report that prompted a furious response from Kyiv.

Amnesty "fully stands by our research", the organisation's Secretary General Agnes Callamard told AFP in emailed comments. "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," she added.

4:01pm: Putin says he hopes for economic agreement, Erdogan aims to discuss Syria during Sochi talks 

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday he was hoping to sign an agreement to boost trade and economic ties in advance of talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. 

"I hope that today we will be able to sign a relevant memorandum on the development of our trade and economic ties," Putin said. 

Putin also thanked Erdogan for 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. 

Erdogan, sitting opposite Putin in Sochi ahead of their scheduled talks, said earlier meetings between Turkish and Russian delegations on politics, economic and trade issues had been fruitful. 

Erdogan also said he would discuss developments in Syria with Putin on Friday. The Turkish leader said he believed talks with Putin on Syria "will bring further relief to the region". 

Turkey backs fighters in Syria who have fought against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is in turn supported by Russia. Ankara's operations in northern Syria have largely targeted a Kurdish militia that it views as a terrorist group. 

Erdogan has threatened to order new military operations in Syria to extend 30-kilometre deep "safe zones" on the border. 

Putin and Erdogan last met at a three-way summit with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran in July. 

At the time, Putin told Erdogan that Russia remained opposed to any new offensive that Turkey might be planning against Kurdish militias in northern Syria. 

The Turkish leader did not mention Ukraine when he spoke before the talks. But earlier, Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said the international community could not end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Moscow. 

1:36pm: Russia bans Western investors from selling stakes in some key firms including Sakhakin-1

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 President Vladimir Putin showed on Friday. The ban also applies to stakes in the Sakhakin-1 oil and gas development in Russia's Far East.

12:30pm: Ukrainian frontline city imposes weekend curfew to root out collaborators

Ukraine's southern frontline city of Mykolaiv will impose an unusually long curfew from late Friday to early Monday morning as authorities try to catch people collaborating with Russia, the region's governor said.

Mykolaiv, which has been shelled throughout Russia's invasion which began on Feb. 24, lies close to Russian-occupied parts of the strategically important region of Kherson where Ukraine plans to conduct a  counteroffensive.

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykoliav region, told residents the curfew running from 11 pm (2000 GMT) Friday to 5 am Monday did not mean the city was under threat or facing a looming attack. "There's no sign of an encirclement. The city will be closed for the weekend. Please be understanding. We are also working on collaborators. Districts will undergo checks," Kim said on Telegram.

11:54am: Russia kicks out 14 Bulgarian diplomats

Russia's foreign ministry said on Friday that Moscow declared 14 Bulgarian diplomats persona non grata. Bulgaria earlier this summer expelled 70 Russian diplomatic staff over espionage concerns and set a cap on the size of Moscow's representation as relations between two countries that were once close allies fractured over Ukraine.

11:39am: Russia says it destroyed two US-made howitzers in Ukraine

Russia's defence ministry said on Friday that it destroyed two US-made M777 howitzers in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported. Reuters has been unable to independently verify battlefield accounts from either side.

10:22am: Russian-backed separatists say they have taken Pisky village in east Ukraine

Russian and pro-Russian forces have taken full control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, TASS news agency cited separatist forces as saying on Friday.

They also said that fighting was taking place in the city of Bakhmut, north of Donetsk. The Ukrainian military said on Thursday Russian forces had mounted at least two assaults on Pisky but had been repelled.

Moscow is seeking to control the largely Russian-speaking Donbas, comprised of Luhansk and Donetsk  provinces, where pro-Moscow separatists have seized territory. 

9:35am: Three more grain ships leave Ukraine, Turkey says

Three more ships loaded with grain sailed from Ukraine on Friday under a UN-backed deal lifting Russia's blockade of the Black Sea, Turkey's defence ministry said.

The Panama-flagged Navistar left Odessa for Ireland with 33,000 tonnes of grain, it said.

And two ships left the port of Chornomorsk -- the Malta-flagged Rojen headed to Britain with 13,000 tonnes of grain, and the Turkish-flagged Polarnet sailed towards Turkey with 12,000 tonnes of grain.

An empty Barbados-flagged ship, the Fulmar, was headed to the port of Chornomorsk to be loaded with grain, it said.

7:54am: UK says Russia's actions at Zaporizhzhia power plant likely undermine its security, safety

The actions taken by Russian forces at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has likely undermined security and the safety of the plant's normal operations, Britain said on Friday.

"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," Britain said in an intelligence update on Twitter.

Russia's intentions regarding the plant remain unclear after five months of its occupation of Ukraine. Its forces are probably operating in the regions adjacent to the power station, having used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river, Britain said.

7:49am: Russia ready to discuss prisoner swap with US, says Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow is ready to discuss prisoner exchanges with Washington through an existing diplomatic channel.

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

A Russian court sentenced US basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drug charges on Thursday. Her sentencing could now pave the way for a US-Russia prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and a prolific Russian arms dealer.

6:02am: Ukraine calls for Black Sea grain deal to extend to other products

Ukraine has called for the deal that relaxes Russia's blockade of its Black Sea grain exports to be extended to include other products, such as metals, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

"This agreement is about logistics, about the movement of vessels through the Black Sea," Ukraine's Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka told FT. "What's the difference between grain and iron ore?"

4:36am: Erdogan to sound out Putin on Ukraine and Syria 

Ending the war in Ukraine and starting a new one in Syria are expected to dominate talks on Friday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Erdogan will be riding high from the diplomatic success of helping orchestrate the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments across the Black Sea when he visits Sochi for his second talks with Putin in just over two weeks.

But there are tensions. The Turkish leader was told by Putin 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' relation over the past 20 years.

4:04am: Three grain ships leave Ukraine; NATO chief says Russia must not win

Three ships loaded with grain left Ukrainian ports on Friday under a recently concluded safe passage deal, the Turkish defenсe ministry and Reuters witnesses said.

The first grain ship to set sail from a Ukrainian port since the start of the Russian invasion, departed Odesa on Monday.

2:16am: Ukraine says it was forced to cede some territory in the east

Ukraine said it had been forced to cede some territory in the east of the country in the face of a Russian offensive, and the head of the NATO military alliance said Moscow must not be allowed to win the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week described the pressure his armed forces were under in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine as "hell". He spoke of fierce fighting around the town of Avdiivka and the fortified village of Pisky, where Kyiv has acknowledged its Russian foe's "partial success" in recent days. 

12:29am: Canada will send military trainers to the UK to teach Ukrainian troops

Canada is sending military trainers to the United Kingdom to teach Ukrainians how to fight invading Russian forces, Defense Minister Anita Anand said Wednesday.

Up to 225 members of the Canadian Armed Forces will eventually be based in the U.K. for an initial period of four months, said Anand. They will work alongside counterparts from Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand in training Ukrainian troops on the basics of soldiering.

“This is an all hands on deck moment for allies and partners that support Ukraine,” Anand said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

An earlier Canadian military training mission based in Ukraine was suspended only weeks before the invasion began.

 

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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