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Ukraine says fighting is ‘stalled’ ahead of UN chief’s visit

Ukrainian forces said on Thursday they had repulsed a Russian attack in the southern Kherson region, while the death toll from Russian shelling of the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv rose. as the nearly six-month war drags on unabated.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

They will discuss ways to find a political solution to the war and address the threat to the world’s food supply and the risk of a disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been taken over by Russian forces.

The war has forced millions to flee, killed thousands and deepened a geopolitical rift between the West and Russia, which says the goal of its operation is to demilitarize its neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities.

“Russian forces have made only minimal progress, and in some cases we have made progress, since last month,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video.

“What we are seeing is a ‘strategic impasse’.”

Russian shelling of a residential area in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killed seven people and wounded 16 on Wednesday night, according to the Ukrainian Emergency Service.

“This is a cunning and cynical attack on civilians without any justification,” Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app.

One person was killed and 18 wounded Thursday in a predawn shelling in another Kharkov residential area, said Oleh Synehubov, the regional governor.

In the south, Ukrainian forces repulsed an attempted advance by Russian forces near the town of Bilohirka, northeast of Kherson, Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.

The southern district of the Operational Command of the Ukrainian armed forces said Ukrainian forces killed 29 “occupiers”, in addition to destroying artillery, armored vehicles and a military supply depot.

Reuters could not independently confirm this information about the battlefield.

Fighting around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has raised fears of catastrophe and Guterres has said he wants a demilitarized zone established.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had spoken with the director general of the International Atomic Agency, who was willing to lead a delegation to the plant.

“I stressed the urgency of the mission to address nuclear security threats caused by Russia’s hostilities,” he said on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ).

The two sides have traded accusations of shelling near the plant.

REPLACEMENT OF THE HEAD OF THE BLACK SEA FLEET

The United States, Albania, France, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom have asked the UN Security Council to meet on August 24 to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine, diplomats said, six months after the war. Russian invasion.

A series of explosions at military bases and ammunition depots in the past week in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, has suggested a shift in the conflict, with Ukraine apparently able to strike deeper into U.S.-occupied territory. Russia.

Russia blamed saboteurs for the attacks, while Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility but hinted at it.

Ukrainian military intelligence said in a statement that, following the recent explosions in Crimea, Russian forces had urgently moved some of their planes and helicopters into the interior of the peninsula and to airfields in Russia. Reuters was unable to independently verify the information.

On Wednesday, the Russian news agency RIA quoted sources as saying that the commander of its Black Sea fleet, Igor Osipov, had been replaced by a new chief, Viktor Sokolov.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most important dismissals of a military in a war in which Russia has suffered great losses of men and equipment.

The Black Sea Fleet, which has a revered history, has suffered several humiliations since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine – which Moscow calls a “special military operation” – on February 24.

In April, Ukraine fired Neptune missiles at Russia’s flagship, the Moskva, a massive cruiser. She became the largest warship sunk in combat for 40 years.

MORE GRAIN SHIPS GO OUT

Crimea is the main supply route for Russian forces in southern Ukraine, where kyiv is expected to launch a counteroffensive in the coming weeks.

The Black Sea Fleet has also blockaded Ukrainian ports since the start of the war, trapping vital grain exports that are only now starting to move again, and sending world food prices skyrocketing.

Three more ships with exports left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Wednesday, according to a watchdog group, bringing to 24 the number of ships that have left Ukraine under a UN-brokered grain export deal.

The kyiv government has said it hopes to increase the monthly volume of seaborne exports to 3 million tons in the near future to clear a backlog of 18 million tons of grain left over from last year’s harvest and start selling new crops. .

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