First shipment of Ukraine grain since start of war leaves Odesa

BOMBARDMENTS IN SOUTH AND EAST

Despite the breakthrough on the grain shipments, the war ground on elsewhere.

Three civilians were killed by Russian shelling in Donetsk region – two in Bakhmut and one in nearby Soledar – in the last 24 hours, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

An important industrial city and transport hub, Bakhmut has been under Russian bombardment for the past week as the Kremlin’s forces try to occupy all of Donetsk.

It is connected to the towns of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk region, which is almost all occupied by Russia. Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said the road was crucial for delivering weapons to Ukrainians fighting in Sievierodonetsk and evacuating people from that area.

Russian strikes also hit Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second biggest city and situated near the border with Russia – on Monday, regional governor Oleh Synegubov said. Two civilians were wounded, he said.

After failing to quickly capture the capital Kyiv early in the war, Russia has turned its forces on Ukraine’s east and south and has been aiming to capture the Donbas region, made up of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia has been transferring some forces from the Donbas to the southern Kherson and Zaporizhizhya regions.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and Kyiv says Moscow is seeking to do the same with the Donbas and link it to Crimea in the south. Russian-backed separatist-controlled parts of the region before the invasion.

Russia invaded Ukraine in what it called a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.

Russian missiles on Sunday pounded Mykolaiv, a port city on the River Bug estuary off the Black Sea that borders the mostly Russian-occupied Kherson region.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said more than 12 missile strikes – probably the most powerful on the city in five months of war – hit homes and schools, with two people confirmed killed and three wounded.

Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of agriculture company Nibulon, and his wife were killed in their home, Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said.

Zelenskyy said the businessman – one of Ukraine’s richest – had been building a modern grain market with a network of transhipment terminals and elevators.

“It is these people, these companies, precisely the south of Ukraine, which has guaranteed the world’s food security,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. “This was always so. And it will be so once again.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine may harvest only half its usual amount this year due to disruption to farming from the war. Farmers have reported trying to harvest in between Russian shelling of their fields and nearby towns and villages.