Former German Chancellor Schroeder says Ukraine grain deal can pave way for ceasefire

  • Germany’s Schroeder says Moscow wants ‘negotiated solution’
  • Moscow-Kyiv grain deal may pave way for ceasefire, Schroeder
  • Kremlin accuses the US of direct involvement in the war
  • Ukraine’s first wartime grain ship reaches the Bosphorus Strait

BERLIN/ISTANBUL, Aug 3 (Reuters) – A deal between Moscow and Kyiv to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports could offer a path to a possible ceasefire in the five-month conflict, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a friend of the Russian President Vladimir. putin

The first grain-carrying ship to leave Ukraine’s wartime ports anchored safely off Turkey’s coast on Tuesday and will be inspected on Wednesday. read more

“The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder told the Stern weekly and RTL/ntv broadcasters on Wednesday, adding that he had met with Putin in Moscow last week.

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“A first success is the grain deal, maybe that can slowly expand to a ceasefire,” he said. read more

Schroeder, chancellor from 1998 to 2005, criticized the war in Ukraine but refused to condemn Putin.

Meanwhile, Russia has accused the United States of being directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine and not just supplying Kyiv with weapons. read more

Russia’s Defense Ministry, headed by a Putin ally, said comments made by Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper showed Washington was embroiled in the conflict.

Skibitsky told the newspaper that there were consultations between US and Ukrainian intelligence officials before the attacks and that Washington had an effective veto over the intended targets, but US officials were not providing direct information about the targets.

“All of this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to the claims of the White House and the Pentagon, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved rocket attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in populated areas of Donbas and other regions, which have resulted in mass civilian deaths.”

There was no immediate reaction from the White House or the Pentagon to the ministry’s claims.

However, the Pentagon denied Moscow’s claims that Russia had destroyed six US-made HIMARS missile systems since the start of the Ukraine war. Russia regularly claims that it has attacked HIMARS, but has yet to show proof. read more

DONBAS: ‘ONLY HELL’

Ukraine’s General Staff on Wednesday cataloged heavy Russian shelling of Kharkiv and other cities and towns in its vicinity, as well as air and missile strikes on civilian objects. Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that despite arms supplies from the West, his country’s forces still cannot overcome Russia’s advantages in heavy weapons and manpower.

“This is very much felt in combat, especially in Donbas… It’s hell there. Words can’t describe it.”

Reuters was unable to verify reports from the battlefield.

Schroeder from Germany said that the future of Donbas was complicated. The traditional industrial heartland in eastern Ukraine has seen some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

“A solution based on the Swiss cantonal model will have to be found,” he said, adding that it would have to be seen whether Putin would return to a pre-war “line of contact” in a ceasefire.

Switzerland has 26 semi-autonomous cantons or provinces.

Solutions to crucial problems like Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, could be found over time, “maybe not in 99 years, like Hong Kong, but in the next generation,” he said.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said the rail link connecting Kherson in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine with Crimea was highly unlikely to be operational due to a Ukrainian attack on a Russian ammunition train.

Russian forces are likely to repair the railway within days, though it will remain a vulnerability for Russian forces and their logistics resupply route from Crimea to Kherson, Britain said in an intelligence update on Twitter.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation.” Kyiv and the West have condemned it as an unprovoked war of aggression.

At a UN conference on Tuesday, Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s nonproliferation and arms control department, refuted all accusations of “unprovoked aggression.” He also added that Moscow was convinced that a nuclear war “must never be fought.” read more

STEP SAFE

Meanwhile, a UN-brokered deal on July 22 to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports met with initial success as the first loaded ship since Russia’s invasion anchored safely off the Turkish coast.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni was at the entrance to the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to world markets, around 1800 GMT on Tuesday, some 36 hours after leaving the Ukrainian port of Odessa. read more

The ship, which is carrying 26,527 tons of corn to Lebanon, will be inspected in Turkey on Wednesday.

Exports from one of the world’s leading grain producers are intended to help alleviate a global food crisis.

Known as the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine expects to export 20 million tons of grain stored in silos and 40 million tons of the current harvest, initially from Odessa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk.

Russia called Razoni’s departure “very positive” news. He has denied responsibility for the food crisis, saying Western sanctions have curbed his exports.

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Reuters bureau reports; Written by Michael Perry; Edited by Himani Sarkar

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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