A U.N. plan to unblock Ukrainian grain exports and allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer is expected to be signed Friday in Istanbul, Turkish officials said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been trying to free up Ukrainian grain that has been stuck in Black Sea ports for months. The Russian blockage of millions of tons of grain has led to food shortages in Africa and Asia.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. At least 22 million tons of grain are stuck there due to the war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Guterres, and officials from Russia and Ukraine will oversee the signing ceremony, according to the Turkish president.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said if an agreement is reached “we can potentially save hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of people, from having food be priced out of their reach.”
USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM:Join our Russia-Ukraine war channel to receive updates straight to your phone.
►A bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution that recognizes Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide. The measure, introduced by Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch, says the Kremlin has committed “heinous crimes against humanity.”
►Ukrainian high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh, 20, won a silver medal at the world championships after clearing 2.02 meters. The win comes shortly after Mahuchikh’s escape from her hometown of Dnipro after it came under Russian attack.
The chief of the United Kingdom’s intelligence service called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an “epic fail,” adding that the country appears to be “about to run out of steam.”
Russian forces have likely lost about 15,000 troops, said Richard Moore, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, also known a MI6, during this week’s Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. He called the number a “conservative estimate” and said that is roughly the same number of troops Russia lost in 10 years during its war in Afghanistan.
Moore acknowledged Russian forces had made progress in recent weeks but called it incremental. He said Russia “has suffered a strategic failure in Ukraine” and will face difficulties in manpower and materials in the next few weeks.
“They will have to pause in some way and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back,” he said, adding that Ukrainian morale is still high and they’re receiving powerful weapons from other countries.
Russia also underestimated Ukrainian resistance, Moore said.
“They clearly completely misunderstood Ukrainian nationalism,” he said. “They completely underrated the degree of resistance the Russian military would face.”
Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, says the United States and its allies are considering providing Ukraine with fighter jets, a decision that would sharply escalate the level of weaponry being sent to Kyiv.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for fighter jets for months, saying Russia’s air supremacy has been a major stumbling block in his country’s efforts to repel the invasion. In March, the U.S. and NATO scuttled Poland’s proposal to send its Russian-built MiGs to Ukraine, with White House national security spokesman John Kirby saying at the time the proposal might be “mistaken as escalatory.”
Brown said Wednesday in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum that Russian MiGs won’t be sent to Ukraine, saying with a laugh that it will “be tougher to get parts” from the Russians.