Three ships are carrying grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to a world worried about food security. In Moscow, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner’s lawyers pledged to appeal a 9½-year prison sentence. Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
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- President Biden described Griner’s verdict as “unacceptable,” after a Russian judge ignored her plea for leniency in a trial on drug charges. U.S. officials denounced the harsh prison sentence, close to the maximum possible, urging the Kremlin to accept a prisoner swap that would free Griner. The Olympian did not speak to journalists after the hearing but said “I love my family” as she was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
- The Kremlin warned U.S. officials against publicly canvassing the terms of a prison exchange, which could “thwart the entire procedure,” in comments suggesting Washington was at risk of sinking hopes of a deal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday there would be no swaps “if we start discussing any nuances” in the press. Russia’s foreign minister said his country was ready to discuss a prisoner exchange, but that the appropriate channel was a mechanism agreed by Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2021.
- The deal to lift a Russian blockade on millions of tons of Ukrainian grain is moving ahead. A Panama-flagged vessel left Odessa with corn for Ireland, a Malta-flagged ship departed the port of Chornomorsk for Britain, and a Turkey-flagged vessel will also export corn from Chornomorsk, according to Ankara — which helped broker the deal with the United Nations.
- Putin is set to meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Friday, their second meeting in 2½ weeks. A Russian proposal intercepted ahead of the meeting — and shared with The Washington Post by Ukrainian intelligence — indicates that Russia hopes Turkey will agree to new channels to help avoid restrictions on its banking, energy and industrial sectors.
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- Russia’s war in Ukraine has damaged or destroyed nearly 200 temples and prayer houses of different denominations, along with hundreds of educational institutions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a nightly address.
- Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of firing near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The U.N. nuclear watchdog has described the safety situation as “out of control” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia facility, which Moscow captured earlier in the war.
- Kyiv is asking Ukrainians to evacuate the eastern Donetsk region under a mandatory evacuation order for thousands of people to flee west on government-sponsored transit. Zelensky has said his troops are facing “hell” in the battle for the country’s east.
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Russia’s vow to annex occupied Ukraine sparks divisions, pleas for aid: In Washington and Kyiv, trepidation is growing over whether the West is positioned to avert a pivotal shift in the war, The Washington Post reports.
Critics of the Biden administration’s response say the president and his advisers appear largely unfazed by Russia’s moves to lay the groundwork to annex pockets of Ukraine.
Russian leaders have signaled they could hold votes in Ukraine’s east and south in September, alongside regional elections already scheduled to take place. This has raised fears that Russia could use the ensuing months to solidify its hold — putting fresh urgency behind the Ukrainian military’s efforts to mount a counteroffensive aimed at retaking the southern port of Kherson.