U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to meet Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with an agenda expected to include a global food crisis, threats to a nuclear power plant, and finding a political solution to the war launched by Russia.
Efforts to ease the food crisis are ongoing, with ships carrying Ukrainian exports now able to depart under an agreement the U.N. and Turkey brokered in late July with Russia and Ukraine.
Guterres is scheduled to travel Friday to visit a port in Odesa, then on Saturday to Istanbul to see the Joint Coordination Center that is monitoring the export system, including inspections of inbound and outbound ships demanded by Russia.
The center said it expects inspections teams to conduct checks Thursday on four ships that departed Ukraine this week.
Those include the Osprey S, which is carrying corn to Turkey, the Ramus and its cargo of wheat bound for Turkey, the Brave Commander carrying wheat to Djibouti, and the Bonita carrying corn to South Korea.
Four other ships are set to be inspected on their way to Ukraine. Russia has sought to ensure that inbound vessels are not bringing weapons for Ukrainian forces.
Three more ships departed Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Wednesday. The coordination center said the Sara, carrying 8,000 metric tons of corn, and the Efe, carrying 7,250 metric tons of sunflower oil, left the Odesa port bound for Turkey.
The Petrel S, loaded with 18,500 metric tons of sunflower meal, left the Chornomorsk port and was headed to Amsterdam, the coordination center said.
Since exports began August 1, 24 vessels have left Ukraine.
A series of explosions during the past week in Russian-occupied Crimea are part of a new strategy being deployed by Ukrainian forces in the war, a Ukraine official said Wednesday.
A week ago, an attack at a Russian air base in Crimea destroyed nine warplanes. On Tuesday, a series of explosions rocked an ammunitions storage facility at a Russian base.
Russia called the latest attacks “sabotage.”
Ukrainian officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post that Ukraine special forces were responsible for the attacks in Crimea.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Post that the Ukrainian government’s official position is that it can neither confirm nor deny Ukrainian involvement in the Crimea attacks.
However, Reznikov also told the Post that striking targets behind Russian lines is part of Ukraine’s current military strategy. He added that Ukraine lacks weapons with the range to reach targets in Crimea from Ukrainian-controlled territory.
In 2014, Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities have vowed to recapture Crimea and other territories now occupied by Russia after Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
In a speech following the August 9 attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the war “began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – its liberation.”
Elsewhere, Russian shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killed seven people and injured 16, the Ukrainian Emergencies Service said Wednesday.
Kharkiv has often been targeted, and Zelenskyy called Wednesday’s attack “a devious and cynical strike on civilians with no justification” in a Telegram post.
Also on Wednesday, Ukraine held disaster response drills after repeated shelling of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told Reuters his government was very concerned about the safety of the plant in Enerhodar in the southeast of the country.
Both sides have accused the other of attacks near the facility in recent days and engaging in what they call “nuclear terrorism,” Reuters reported.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.