Ukraine’s air force has said that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in the explosions that rocked a Russian air base in the annexed Crimean Peninsula on Tuesday.
The air force’s claim, posted on Facebook alongside the overall losses Kyiv says Russia has suffered during the war, came amid speculation the blasts were the result of a Ukrainian attack that would represent a significant escalation in the conflict.
The explosions, which killed one person and wounded 14 others, according to Crimea’s governor, sent tourists fleeing in panic as plumes of smoke towered over the nearby coastline.
Russia has said the explosions were detonations of stored ammunition, not the result of an attack. Kyiv, for its part, has suggested the blasts could have been caused by Russian incompetence or an attack by partisans.
The Ukrainian leader said Ukraine needed to consider how to inflict as much damage as possible on Russian forces and thereby shorten the war.
Ukraine’s armed forces will respond to the Russian shelling of the town of Marhanets, which killed 13 people and wounded 10 on Wednesday, President Zelensky said in a video address.
UN: First wartime wheat shipments from Ukraine expected next week
A top UN official has said the first wartime wheat from Ukraine should ship next week under a landmark deal also signed by Russia aimed at tackling the global food crisis.
The first 12 ships to leave the three Black Sea ports designated by the agreement were carrying 370,000 tons of corn and foodstuffs, according to Frederick Kenney, interim UN coordinator at the joint center in Istanbul, overseeing the deal.
The United Nations expects to see a “big uptick” in applications for ships to export Ukraine grain after transit procedures were agreed upon by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations.
The number of inbound vessels is expected to “grow in the near future” as grain deals are made, said Frederick Kenney, interim UN coordinator at the Joint Coordination Centre for the Black Sea Initiative.
Ukraine urges EU, G7 states to stop issuing visas to Russians
Ukraine’s foreign minister has urged European Union and G7 countries to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens, citing what he said was their support for the invasion of Ukraine.
“Russians overwhelmingly support the war on Ukraine. They must be deprived of the right to cross international borders until they learn to respect them,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
His plea echoed an earlier call by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for Western countries to impose a one-year travel ban on Russians, saying they should be forced to “live in their own world until they change their philosophy”.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaia Kallas also said this week that it is time for European countries to refuse to issue visas to Russian citizens.
“Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right. Air travel from RU is shut down. It means while Schengen countries issue visas, neighbors to Russia carry the burden (FI, EE, LV – sole access points). Time to end tourism from Russia now,” she wrote.