Russia has said it is still undecided on the extension of a landmark Black Sea grain deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey and due to expire 18 May.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding our part of the deal … now we have to make a decision,” the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine – both major grain exporters – triggered fears of a global food crisis when major Ukrainian ports were blocked by Moscow’s warships.
In July 2022, the agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports to restart was signed, as well as a parallel memorandum on unhindered Russian food and fertiliser exports.
Russia has however repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the deal, claiming that obstacles remain to its own food exports.
During recent talks in Istanbul, the Turkish defence minister, Hulusi Akar, said: “We are heading toward an agreement on the extension of the grain deal.”
Russia has laid out a list of conditions for it to agree to an extension, including allowing the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to reconnect to the Swift payment system.
Supplies of agricultural machinery, spare parts and services also have to be resumed, and obstacles to granting Russian vessels insurance and access to foreign ports must be lifted, it says.
Moscow’s conditions also include the resumption of ammonia exports for fertilisers through a major pipeline that goes through Ukraine.
Here’s another sign of the deepening partnership between Nato and Ukraine, as the country’s flag has been raised at the cyber defence centre of excellence in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
Six people have been killed in Kharkiv and Donetsk over the last 24 hours, according to the region’s governors.
Oleh Syniehubov and Pavlo Kyrylenko confirmed the figures on Tuesday.
A man and a woman were killed in shelling in the village of Dvorichna in Kharkiv, with another man taken to hospital because of his injuries.
Meanwhile in Donetsk four were killed by Russian attacks in Avdiivka.
Another three were injured in Chasiv Yar, a town about 15km to the west of Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska’s diplomatic world tour continued as she met the South Korean president, Yoon Suk Yeol, in Seoul on Tuesday.
Zelenska said she was seeking “more radical” backing for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
South Korea, the world’s ninth-largest arms exporter, has sent humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and has also sold tanks and howitzers to Poland.
However, it has a longstanding policy of not providing weapons to active conflict zones.
In her interview with Yonhap, Zelenska also responded favourably when asked if Ukraine planned to invite Yoon to Kyiv. She said Ukraine was “always waiting for its friends”.
Head of Ukraine's supreme court arrested over bribery claims
The head of Ukraine’s supreme court has been detained over an alleged bribery scheme, according to a prosecutor from the specialised anti-corruption prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor did not name the official detained but told reporters, including from Reuters, he was the head of the supreme court and had not yet been served with a formal “notice of suspicion”.
The supreme court is headed by Chief Justice Vsevolod Kniaziev, who could not be reached for comment
Russia claims it has destroyed Patriot air defence system
Russia’s defence ministry has said it has destroyed a US-built Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system overnight with a hypersonic Kinzhal missile attack on Ukraine, the Zvezda military news outlet reports.
It quoted the ministry as saying the overnight strikes had also been aimed at Ukrainian fighting units and ammunition storage sites, Reuters reported.
Ukraine said earlier that it had shot down 18 Russian missiles overnight, including an entire volley of six Kinzhals.
China’s special Ukraine envoy, Li Hui, will visit Warsaw on Friday after his two-day trip to Kyiv, Poland’s ministry of foreign affairs said on Tuesday.
“That will be the case,” Łukasz Jasina, a spokesperson for the ministry, told AFP, confirming earlier reports in Polish media and adding that the envoy would meet a Polish deputy foreign minister in Warsaw.
Beijing had announced Li’s visit last week, saying that apart from Ukraine and Poland he would also visit Russia, France and Germany.
China said the aim of the tour was to “communicate with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis”.
China, which has close ties with Russia, has tried to position itself as a mediator in the war in Ukraine.
Luke Harding has visited Kyiv’s zoo in the aftermath of the rocket strikes.
A Russian rocket from last night’s missile attack on Kyiv fell on the city’s zoo, slicing through trees and landing next to enclosures containing vultures and a family of racoons.
Ukraine’s air defences shot down the missile, together with 17 others. The zoo’s director, Kirill Trantin, was in a shelter a few hundred metres away, with about 20 other employees, as the “exceptionally intense” attack unfolded.
“It was 2.50am. It was very loud and very bright. We heard a boom. There was no fire and fortunately no humans or animals were hurt,” he told the Guardian. “Police arrived and took away a part of the missile, which was shot down.” Asked what type, he replied: “That’s secret”.
Trantin said the debris had already been swept up, with the zoo opening to visitors as usual at 10am. The animals did not appear distressed but would be monitored over the coming days and if necessary given anti-depressants in their water, he said. In the meantime they would get extra apples and nuts.
He added: “The Russians are not humans. They want to punish and scare us. They don’t give a shit about international law or norms. But we’ve held on for more than a year already and won’t give in. Ten of my zoo colleagues are fighting with the Ukrainian army, including three in Bakhmut.”
The zoo is a popular Kyiv attraction. One mother, Maryna, said she had taken her 11-year-old son Serhii to see the chimpanzees as a birthday treat. “He’s 11 today. Last night’s attack was terrible. But I promised to take him to the zoo and a promise is a promise.”
Ukrainian counter-offensives are continuing around Bakhmut, according to the commander of the ground forces of Ukraine’s army.
Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi visited troops and officers in the city on Monday. He posted on Telegram on Tuesday morning: “Wagner fighters got into Bakhmut like rats into a mousetrap. Using the principle of active defense, we resort to counteroffensive operations in some directions near Bakhmut. The enemy has more resources, but we are destroying their plans.”
He said that further plans and precautions were discussed during the meeting. Syrskyi also commended a number of brigades for their efforts during the conflict.
The wife of the German ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder has been sacked from her role as a trade representative for a German state-owned business agency over her attendance at a Victory Day reception at the Russian embassy in Berlin.
Employment relations between Soyeon Schröder-Kim and NRW.Global Business have been terminated “without notice and with immediate effect”, a spokesperson for the economic ministry in the western German state of North-Rhine Westphalia said on Tuesday.
Leaked photographs revealed Schröder and his spouse were at a reception at the Russian embassy in Berlin on 9 May, drawing further criticism for the disgraced former Social Democrat head of government, who has refused to deny his friendship with Vladimir Putin and business ties to Russia in spite of the Kremlin’s attack on Ukraine.
Schröder-Kim, 55, has been employed as a representative for South Korea at the foreign trade promotion agency of North-Rhine Westphalia for eleven years, a role that she still listed as her primary employment on her LinkedIn profile on Tuesday.