Moscow ‘waging war’ on global food supply, US tells UN; Putin says it will use ‘all means at its disposal’ to defend Belarus after Warsaw moves troops to east

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Russia is “waging war on the world’s food supply” and has “upended peace and security around the world”, the US ambassador to the UN has a told a meeting of the security council. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on Moscow to cease attacking Ukrainian food facilities and reenter the Black Sea grain deal, from which it withdrew on Monday. “Russia has zero legitimate reason to suspend its participation in this arrangement … It is using the Black Sea as blackmail.”

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will use “all means at its disposal” to defend Belarus after Poland and other EU countries voiced concerns about the deployment of Russian paramilitaries near their borders. The Russian president claimed at a meeting of the Russian security council that Poland was seeking to invade Belarus, a Russian ally, after Warsaw moved troops nearer the border with Belarus following Minsk’s commencement of exercises with Wagner trainers.

Russia has arrested Igor Girkin, who was convicted by a Dutch court over the shooting down of MH17, on extremism charges, probably fuelled by his criticism of the Russian war effort in Ukraine. Girkin is a former battlefield commander of Moscow’s proxy forces in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s navy carried out a live fire “exercise” in the north-west Black Sea, Moscow’s defence ministry said, days after the Kremlin said it would consider ships travelling to Ukraine through the waterway to be potential military targets. The Black Sea Fleet “carried out live firing of anti-ship cruise missiles at the target ship in the combat training range in the north-western part of the Black Sea”, Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

The Ukrainian president condemned a Russian artillery attack he said killed two children and damaged a school in the Donetsk region. Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a cultural centre and residential buildings were also damaged in the attack on Druzhba village.

An employee of a cultural centre had been found dead after Russian shelling in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, governor Vyacheslav Chaus said. In the Odesa region, governor Oleh Kiper said that out of 21 people wounded in Russian attacks over the past four days, four were still in hospital.

The US plans to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine worth up to $400m – primarily comprised of artillery, air defence missiles and ground vehicles – as soon as Tuesday, three US officials have said. The US was not including cluster munitions in this package, two of them said.

The number of ships looking to pick up grain cargoes from the Black Sea area fell 35% week on week amid growing uncertainty over whether commercial traffic could be hit as Russia continues to pound food facilities in Ukraine.

Bulgaria said it had decided to send about 100 armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine in the Balkan country’s first shipment of heavy equipment to Kyiv. Bulgaria has so far sent only one military aid package to Kyiv, containing mostly flak jackets and helmets, but a pro-EU government took office last month.

The top diplomatic adviser to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said China was delivering to Russia items that could be used as military equipment, although not on a big scale. French officials told CNN that Macron was referring to dual-use technologies and non-lethal assistance, such as helmets and body armour.

Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, grounded by Covid-19 and then shunned in the west since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will return to international touring next week for the first time since 2020 with a trip to Beijing.

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