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Deadly Russian air strikes pound Kherson as war enters 20th month; Ukraine grain ships reach Turkey despite threats from Russia

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Russian air strikes on Sunday killed two people and wounded three others in southern Ukraine’s Kherson province, the region’s governor reported on Sunday as the war in Ukraine entered a 20th month.

According to Governor Oleksandr Prokudin, Russian forces struck the city of Beryslav, destroying an unspecified number of private houses. A woman was killed and three people were wounded, including a police officer, he said.

Another air strike also killed a 67-year-old man in the village of Lvove, Prokudin said without specifying the type of weapons used in the attack.

The communities hit both are located in the Ukrainian-controlled part of the Kherson region, where the Dnieper River that bisects the province has marked a battle line since Russian troops withdrew across it in November 2022, a retreat that boosted the invaded country’s morale.

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The Russians regrouped on the river’s eastern bank and regularly shell cities and villages across the river, including the city of Kherson, the regional capital that was occupied early on in the war but retaken by Ukrainian forces more than 10 months ago.

In Russia, a Ukrainian drone hit an administrative building in the city of Kursk and “insignificantly damaged” the roof, regional Governor Roman Starovoyt reported. He didn’t report any casualties or say what the building housed.

Unconfirmed media reports both in Russia and Ukraine said it was the offices of the Kursk branch of Russia’s main security agency, the Federal Security Service, also known as the FSB.

The Kursk region of Russia borders Ukraine and also is a frequent target of attacks. The drone strike on Sunday took place as residents commemorated the anniversary of the regional capital’s founding.

There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian authorities, who usually don’t acknowledge responsibility for attacks on Russian territory.

Cargo ship Aroyat, carrying Ukraine grain, transits Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Reuters

Also on Sunday, a second shipment of Ukrainian wheat reached Turkey via the Black Sea, according to maritime traffic monitoring sites, despite Russian threats to attack boats heading to or from its neighbour and enemy.

The Palau-flagged bulk carrier Aroyat – laden with 17,600 tonnes of wheat – left the port city of Chornomorsk on Friday bound for Egypt.

Ukraine is testing a new sea route that avoids using international waters and follows those controlled by Nato members Bulgaria and Romania, following Russia’s withdrawal from a UN-backed grain export deal.

According to the websites Marine Traffic and Vessel Finder, the Aroyat was at the southern exit of the Bosphorus Strait about 3am on Sunday.

It was to head towards the Dardanelles Strait to reach the Mediterranean.

A first ship loaded with 3,000 tonnes of wheat, and also flying the flag of Palau, left Chornomorsk without incident on Tuesday and arrived in Istanbul on Thursday.

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Drones allegedly from Ukraine hit high-rise buildings in Moscow central districts

Drones allegedly from Ukraine hit high-rise buildings in Moscow central districts

Russia and Ukraine are two major agricultural powers whose supplies are crucial for global food security.

Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour in February last year – and subsequent international sanctions – have destabilised global supplies and markets.

Ukrainian forces have been aiming to undermine Moscow’s military control of the Black Sea, including with attacks on Russia-annexed Crimea.

Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, has been targeted by increasingly frequent drone and missile attacks, with Kyiv claiming to have damaged several Russian warships.

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