The intensifying strikes are “likely a part of a Kremlin effort to leverage Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and exact extensive concessions from the West,” according to an analysis from the think tank Institute for the Study of War.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
Kirby said the cluster munitions are making “an impact on Russia’s defensive formations and Russia’s defensive maneuvering.” The Biden administration made the “difficult decision” this month to send the weapons, which can leave behind unexploded “bomblets” that can kill years after a conflict has ended.
Russia pummeled Ukraine’s Black Sea region with missiles for three nights straight this week. An attack on the port city of Mykolaiv killed two people and injured 19, including five children, Ukrainian officials said early Thursday; while the latest attack in Odessa killed one person, regional governor Oleh Kiper said. The wave of attacks comes after Moscow’s promised retaliation for Kyiv’s strike on the Crimean Bridge earlier this week.
Tensions around maritime activity on the Black Sea have soared in recent days and the price of wheat futures has risen, though it has not reached its May 2022 high. As of Thursday, Russia said it considers ships en route to Ukrainian Black Sea ports to be involved in the conflict, and Ukraine responded it would treat vessels headed toward Russian ports the same. The White House warned that Russia’s military has laid sea mines around Ukrainian ports and is preparing for potential attacks on civilian shipping vessels.
CIA Director William J. Burns commented on the whereabouts of Gen. Sergey Surovikin, who has had good relations with Wagner Group head Yevgeniy Prigozhin and whose whereabouts sparked rumors after the Wagner mutiny. “I don’t think he enjoys a lot of freedom right now,” Burns told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly at the Aspen Security Forum. The CIA director stopped short of saying Surovikin was in custody, but his remark implied that the general is not able to move about as he would like.
Zelensky called for limits on funding for cultural activities during the war in his nightly address Thursday, shortly before Oleksandr Tkachenko announced his resignation from his post as cultural minister on social media, citing a “misunderstanding about the importance of culture during war” with the president. “Museums, cultural centers, symbols, TV series — all of this is important,” Zelensky said, “but now there are other priorities.”
The U.N. Security Council is set to meet Friday to discuss the “humanitarian consequences” of Russia pulling out of the grain deal, Britain’s Mission to the U.N. said on social media. First signed in July of last year, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been credited with bolstering food security around the world. “Ultimately, participation in these agreements is a choice,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said after Russia withdrew, “but struggling people everywhere and developing countries don’t have a choice.”
Ukraine’s central bank said Thursday that it will nationalize Russian-owned Sense Bank, which is one of Ukraine’s top commercial banks, and put it under a provisional administration beginning Friday. The Russian affiliation of Sense Bank’s holders is “posing a significant reputational risk and having a substantial adverse impact on the bank’s activities” in Ukraine, the National Bank of Ukraine said in a statement.
The United States on Thursday placed sanctions on Russian technology supply and development companies, as well as Kyrgyz companies accused of facilitating Russian imports of electronic equipment that bypassed Western sanctions. A Washington Post investigation published Tuesday revealed that Kyrgyz firms were profiting from transporting sanctioned Chinese and European goods to Russia.
Ukraine’s new Bradley Fighting Vehicles face damage and quick repairs: In the early stages of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, about a dozen newly provided Bradleys — a heavily armed American armor-killing vehicle that also carries soldiers into battle — have been destroyed, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Alex Horton and Kamila Hrabchuk report. Many others have been repaired and sent back to the battlefield.
Losses of equipment were anticipated and have not shaken Ukrainian commanders. Even as some vehicles have been damaged, Ukrainian troops have experienced the benefits of the heavily armored equipment. The Bradley protects everyone inside, with fighters suffering only minor injuries if the vehicle hits an antitank mine.
Shane Harris contributed to this report.