About three and a half weeks before the expiry of the international agreement on the export of grain from Ukraine, Russia has once again threatened to end the agreement. At a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended the war of aggression against the neighboring country, which began 14 months ago. And the Kremlin announced that there will be no major international visitors at the traditional military parade on May 9 in Moscow – as in the previous year.
Moscow threatens to end grain deal
"Terrorist attacks by the Kyiv regime threaten a further extension of the 'grain deal' after May 18," the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday night. Specifically, Russia, which itself launched the war of aggression against Ukraine in February 2022, accuses the neighboring country of attacking the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow with drones in March and April. Initially, there was no reaction from Kiev.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to cancel the grain agreement, which was last extended by 60 days in mid-March – albeit with changing arguments. Most recently, for example, Moscow repeatedly criticized that the agreed sanctions relief for its own fertilizer exports were not sufficiently implemented.
After the start of its war of aggression, Russia had blocked the Black Sea ports of the neighboring country for months. As Ukraine is one of the largest agricultural exporters, fears of a massive increase in food prices and, as a result, a hunger crisis in the poorest countries have increased. Last summer, the United Nations and Turkey brokered an end to the blockade in the form of the grain deal.
Ukraine is already preparing for the coming winter
After months of Russian attacks on energy facilities, Ukraine is already preparing for the coming winter, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. "We have taken decisions to restore the energy sector after the Russian attacks," Zelenskyy said in his evening video address on Monday after a visit to the Zhytomyr region west of Kyiv.
Since last autumn, Russia has repeatedly fired missiles and drones at Ukrainian power plants. As a result, power and heating failures occurred again and again in many regions of Ukraine, especially during the cold season. Kiev has repeatedly accused Moscow of "energy terror".
Lavrov defends invasion of Ukraine at UN Security Council
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of hegemonic plans and defended his country's invasion of Ukraine. The "Ukraine issue" cannot be viewed in isolation from geopolitical developments, in which NATO has threatened Russia's security in the region for years, Lavrov claimed at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.
The controversial meeting of the UN's most powerful body had been called by Russia in view of its presidency of the Council. In view of Russia's war of aggression, the meeting entitled "Effective Multilateralism by Defending the Principles of the Charter of the United Nations" was seen by many countries as a provocation.
Kremlin: No foreign heads of state at military parade on May 9
In the second year of the war, foreign heads of state and government are once again not invited to the traditional military parade on May 9 on Red Square in Moscow. "There were no special invitations this year," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Only the president of the Central Asian ex-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, Sadyr Shaparov, will take part in the celebrations for the 78th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II – because he will be in Moscow for a working visit anyway.
Kremlin denies Putin lookalike
At the same time, the Kremlin once again rejected suspicions that Russian President Vladimir Putin was being represented by doppelgangers at public appearances. "You've probably heard that Putin is supposed to have a lot of doppelgangers who work instead of him while he sits in a bunker. This is another lie," Peskov told young people at an educational event in Moscow. "You see what kind of president we have. He was and is mega-active. We who work with him can hardly keep up with him."
Speculation about one or even more Putin doubles comes up again and again – most recently, for example, in view of a visit by the Kremlin chief to Russian-occupied war zones in Ukraine. Evidence that there is actually a doppelganger of Putin at official appointments is not known.