Russia-Ukraine war: first wheat shipments to leave next week; UN to discuss Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant crisis – live

Key events

First Ukrainian wheat shipments expected next week: UN

The first wartime wheat from Ukraine should ship next week after agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine last month lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports and established safe corridors, a top UN official has said.

The first 12 ships to leave the three Black Sea ports designated by the agreement were carrying 370,000 tonnes of corn and foodstuffs, according to Frederick Kenney, interim UN coordinator at the joint centre in Istanbul overseeing the deal.

But that should change once the ships docked in Ukraine leave their ports and new ones come in to pick up wheat that has accumulated with this year’s harvest, Kenney told reporters.

We are dealing with three ports that were essentially frozen in time.

The silos were full of corn and the ships that were there have been loaded with corn.

It’s imperative to get those ships out to get new ships in …. that can deal with the food crisis.”

Kenney added that the shipments would be transitioning to wheat.

We have cleared the first ship inbound” to Ukraine through the Bosphorus Strait, he said. “That should occur some time next week.”

We’re seeing steady progress in the number of ships coming in and out. We’re off to a good start.”

Satellite images show Russian warplanes destroyed

At least eight Russian warplanes appear to have been damaged or destroyed in the recent attack on Saky airbase in Crimea, according to newly released satellite images.

The images, from the US-based Planet Labs, show large areas of scorched earth and damage to the runway alongside the charred remnants of military aircraft.

Images taken by the private satellite operator at around 8am on 9 August – approximately four hours before the attack – and about 4.40pm on 10 August, show at least eight aircraft parked outside were damaged or destroyed.

Before and after image of the The Saky airbase
Before and after image of the The Saky airbase

The before-and-after images are the first independent confirmation of damage to the base, prompting questions about how a location more than 100 miles (160km) from the frontline could have been attacked.

Eliot Higgins, founder and director of open source investigative website Bellingcat, said he “can’t think of a time Russia has lost this many air assets in one day in recent memory” in a series of tweets on Thursday.

Ukraine claims 9 Russian jets destroyed in Crimea raid

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

Ukraine says nine Russian aircraft were destroyed on the ground following Tuesday’s dramatic explosions at the Saky airbase in Crimea, which Russia said killed one, wounded 13 and damaged dozens of nearby houses.

Political sources in Ukraine said the country had carried out the attack – but no public claim of responsibility was made by Kyiv.

Yuriy Ignat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian air force, told national television that from studying video footage of the incident, it was clear “the aircraft weapons depot was hit”. He said: “And if additionally a dozen planes are destroyed there, it will be a real small victory.”

The country’s air force also said on its Facebook page that “nine invader planes” had been destroyed in a short posting, although it did not specify in that message where or how it believed they had been eliminated.

This satellite image provided by Planet Labs PBC shows destroyed Russian aircraft at Saki airbase after an explosion Tuesday, 9 August.
This satellite image provided by Planet Labs PBC shows destroyed Russian aircraft at Saki airbase after an explosion Tuesday, 9 August. Photograph: Planet Labs PBC/AP

Ukraine’s president, Volodoymyr Zelenskiy, referred to the attack in his latest national address on Wednesday evening.

In just one day, the occupiers lost 10 combat aircraft: nine in Crimea and one more in the direction of Zaporizhzhia. The occupiers also suffer new losses of armoured vehicles, warehouses with ammunition, logistics routes.”

The claims could not be verified but the Saky airbase is home to Su-30M fighters, Su-24 bombers and the Il-76 transporter, used regularly to launch missile strikes into Ukraine and patrol the Black Sea and surrounding area.

Ukraine’s public coyness about the attack is partly designed to preserve some ambiguity about the means used, sources said, prompting broad speculation as to how Kyiv was able to strike so deep behind Russian lines, in one of the first attacks on Crimean soil since the Russian invasion began in February.

Explosions at Saky airbase in Crimea send plumes of smoke into sky – video

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while until my colleague, Martin Belam, takes the reins.

At least eight Russian warplanes appear to have been damaged or destroyed in the recent attack on Saky airbase in Crimea, according to newly released satellite images.

The first wartime wheat from Ukraine should ship next week after agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine last month lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports and established safe corridors, a top UN official has said.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later today to address the crisis at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, diplomatic sources told Agence France-Presse.

It is 7.30am in Ukraine. Here is everything you might have missed:

  • Ukraine has accused Russia of firing rockets from around the captured Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, killing at least 13 people and wounding 10, knowing it would be risky for Ukraine to return fire. Ukraine says Russia targeted the town of Marhanets, which Moscow says Ukraine has used in the past to shell Russian soldiers at the plant, which Russia seized in March. Calling on foreign allies to send more powerful weapons, Zelenskiy said in a late-night video address that Kyiv “will not leave today’s Russian shelling of the Dnipropetrovsk region unanswered”, and vowed to inflict as much damage on Russia as possible to end the war quickly.

  • Ukraine’s air force said it believed up to a dozen Russian aircraft were destroyed on the ground in Tuesday’s dramatic explosions at the Saky airbase in Crimea, which Russia said killed one, wounded 13 and damaged dozens of nearby houses. Political sources in Ukraine said it had carried out the attack, but Kyiv did not publicly claim responsibility. One expert said it may have been the product of a daring raid rather than a missile strike.

  • The British defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said he thought the Saky airbase in Crimea was a “legitimate target” for Ukraine. “First and foremost, Russia has illegally invaded, not just in 2014, but now Ukrainian territory,” he said. “Ukraine, under UN articles, is perfectly entitled to defend its territory and take what action it needs to against an invading force.”

  • Pro-Russian separatists accused Ukraine of shelling a brewery in the occupied eastern city of Donetsk on Wednesday, killing one person and triggering a leak of ammonia that sparked a fire.

  • The EU has been urged to put a travel ban on Russian tourists, with some member states saying visiting Europe is “a privilege, not a human right” for holidaymakers. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has told the Washington Post that the “most important sanction” is to “close the borders, because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land”.

  • China, which Russia has sought as an ally since being cold-shouldered by the west, has called the US the “main instigator” of the crisis, Reuters reported. In an interview with the Russian state news agency Tass published on Wednesday, China’s ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, accused Washington of backing Russia into a corner with repeated expansion of the Nato defence alliance.

  • The UN expects to see a “big uptick” in applications for ships to export Ukrainian grain after transit procedures were agreed by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations, a senior UN official said on Wednesday. The number of inbound vessels is expected to “grow in the near future” as grain deals are made, said Frederick Kenney, interim UN coordinator in Istanbul. So far, 24 grain carrying ships have left Ukrainian ports.

  • Estonia said it had summoned the Russian ambassador and formally protested about the violation of its airspace by a Russian helicopter on Tuesday. “Estonia considers this an extremely serious and regrettable incident that is completely unacceptable,” the ministry announced, saying the helicopter had flown over Estonia’s south-east without permission.

  • Ukraine’s overseas creditors have backed its request for a two-year freeze on payments on almost $20bn in international bonds, allowing it to avoid a debt default, Reuters reported. Ukraine’s prime minister says it will save the country almost $6bn, while helping to stabilise its economy and strengthen its army.

Ukrainian servicemen ride atop tanks near a front line in Mykolaiv region, Ukraine , on 10 August.
Ukrainian servicemen ride atop tanks near a front line in Mykolaiv region, Ukraine , on 10 August. Photograph: Reuters

source: theguardian.com