(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin ignored the success of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, saying in a TV interview that “all attempts” to break through Russia’s defenses had failed. Ukraine’s armed forces have made slow but tangible progress in their efforts to push back the Russian occupier, which continues in at least three areas in the south and east of the country. Putin also discussed the US supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine and said Russia would retaliate if the bombs are used on its troops.
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Moscow-appointed officials in Sevastopol said air defense systems repelled multiple aerial and naval drones fired at night by Ukraine into the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. Explosions were reported around Sevastopol at night. Ukrainian drones were also shot down near Belgorod in southern Russia, about 80 kilometers north of Kharkiv. Kremlin forces meanwhile attacked Kharkiv with S-300 missiles, regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram. Kremlin forces also shelled the surrounding region with artillery and mortars, killing at least one civilian, he said.
Talking to South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped a sombre note about the Black Sea grain deal due to expire Monday. The number of ships loading Ukrainian grain from Odessa on the Black Sea has shrunk to just one, according to the UN.
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Wheat and corn prices rose for a second session on Friday as uncertainty reigns over the grain export deal with Ukraine that expires Monday.
Time is running out for the Black Sea agreement that will allow Ukraine to export 33 million tons of grain and food in the past year. Putin told Ramaphosa that Russia’s demands had still not been met. Moscow has said more grain should be sent from Ukraine to developing countries, including Africa – although availability on the world market makes grain generally more abundant. Russia is currently the dominant wheat supplier in the world.
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