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Ukraine war: African leaders grain deal, counteroffensive 'moving', Kyiv behind Crimea bridge blast

Ukrainian soldiers during training at the frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, April 15, 2023.
Ukrainian soldiers during training at the frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, April 15, 2023. Copyright Roman Chop/AP
Copyright Roman Chop/AP
By Euronews with AFP/AP
Published on Updated
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All the latest developments from the Ukraine war.

Zelenskyy sets eyes on Crimea

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In his latest address to the nation on Wednesday, Ukraine's president reiterated his desire to see Crimea brought back under Ukrainian control. 

"We are also preparing a list of de-occupation steps for Crime," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy, adding they related to security, economics and social factors. 

"We can quickly reintegrate Crimea into the state fabric of Ukraine. In fact, the occupiers should already consider that while the Crimean bridge is still somewhat operational, they should return home to Russia."

Crimea, a small peninsular in the Black Sea to the south of Ukraine, was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014. 

It followed the deposition of Russian-backed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych in the Revolution of Dignity that same year.  

US calls on African leaders to confront Putin over grain deal

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken urged African leaders attending a summit with the Russian president to demand answers over the grain crisis, which has plunged poorer countries into calamity.  

Speaking before a Russia-Africa meeting in St Petersburg, Secretary of State Blinken insisted African leaders knew soaring food costs and shortages directly resulted from Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. 

"They know exactly who is responsible for the current situation," he said in a message aimed at delegations from 49 African countries, including 17 heads of state. 

Some African leaders have offered tacit support to Moscow or refused to condemn its assault on Ukraine. 

Speaking to Euronews in March, Paul Rogers, Professor of International Security at the University of Bradford, said there is ambivalence towards the war in the Global South. 

Especially in sub-Saharan Africa, he said Russia is not seen as "one of the great colonial powers that controlled them for centuries” unlike other Western states. 

Although the colonial legacy does not create pro-Russian sentiment – with most people acutely aware of how "grievous" the war has been for Ukrainians – Rogers suggested it meant there was "less sympathy for the Western position". 

Russia suspended a landmark grain deal in July, which lifted a blockade on Ukrainian vital grain exports to many parts of the world, such as the African continent. 

The move sent prices skyrocketing, raising the spectre of famine once more. 

Counteroffensive 'not a stalemate' - US

Ukraine's assault on Russian-occupied territory is not at an impasse, the White House said on Wednesday. 

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"President Zelenskyy himself has said that he that it's not progressing as fast as he would like and they're not moving as far every day as they would like," White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters. 

But he added: "That said they are moving, it's not a stalemate. They're not just frozen."

Kirby made the remarks in response to a question about the progress of Ukraine's counteroffensive, which has encountered stiff Russian resistance. 

The US and its Western allies have given Kyiv extensive equipment, support and training, with Washington alone providing more than €39 billion in military aid. 

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So far there's little evidence that Western-supplied tanks and armoured vehicles have been able to tip the balance in Ukraine's favour.

Ukraine admits it was behind Crimea bridge blast

Ukraine’s security service claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an explosion that badly damaged the Kerch Bridge linking Crime with Russia last October. 

The explosion, which Russian authorities said was caused by a truck bomb, left three people dead.

In a televised address, Ukrainian Security Service head Vasyl Malyuk said his agency was behind the attack. 

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Kyiv had until now not revealed it was behind the blast.

“There were many different operations, special operations. We’ll be able to speak about some of them publicly and out loud after the victory, we will not talk at all about others,” Malyuk said. “It is one of our actions, namely the destruction of the Crimean bridge on October 8 last year.”

A further attack on the bridge last week, killing a couple and seriously wounding their daughter, left a span of the roadway hanging perilously. 

The damage initially appeared to be less severe than what was caused by the assault in October, but it highlighted the bridge’s vulnerability. 

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Malyuk made no mention of who was behind the more recent attack.

The bridge connecting Crimea and Russia is significant for Moscow, both logistically and psychologically. It is a key artery for military and civilian supplies to troops in southern Ukraine, plus a visible symbol of the Kremlin's control.

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