Biden urged to deal hammer blow to desperate Putin as Russia struggles in Black Sea

Ukraine: Russia strikes Odesa port after agreeing grain deal

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Russian-American historian Dr Yuri Felshtinsky was speaking about the sudden illness of Putin’s former associate Anatoly Chubais on the Italian island of Sardinia, as well as the death of a Ukraine grain baron. In addition, the first ship to carry Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea since Russia invaded Ukraine five months ago set sail from the port of Odesa today after a deal brokered between the two sides by Turkey and the United Nations.

Dr Felshtinsky, who has as PhD in history from Rutgers University in New Jersey, is the author of the forthcoming Blowing up Ukraine: The Return of Russian Terror and the Threat of World War III, due to be published on August 24.

He warned: “Vladimir Putin is toying with the world.”

He said the news of the sudden illness of Anatoly Chubais “and fears it might be a case of Putinitis”, and the killing in Odesa in his bedroom of Oleksiy Vadatursky, Ukraine’s richest grain magnate, “the Kremlin is toying with the world by releasing a grain ship.”

Dr Felshtinsky said: “The Kremlin’s sole objective is to weaken the coalition of nations thwarting its conquest of Ukraine with every means at its disposal.

“The sooner an international coalition comes together to lock Russia out of the Black Sea the sooner the conflict is likely to lose momentum.”

The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni will head to the port of Tripoli, Lebanon, after transiting the Bosphorus Strait linking the Black Sea, which is dominated by Russia’s navy, to the Mediterranean. It is carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has led to a worldwide food and energy crisis and the United Nations has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hoped Tuesday’s departure would be the first of many such cargos and that the UN would charter a ship to replenish supplies of aid.

He told reporters in New York: “People on the verge of famine need these agreements to work, in order to survive.

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“Countries on the verge of bankruptcy need these agreements to work, in order to keep their economies alive.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa”.

Ukraine, known as Europe’s breadbasket, hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain in silos and 40 million tonnes from the harvest now underway, initially from Odesa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk, to help clear the silos for the new crop.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for slowing its exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports. The Kremlin called the Razoni’s departure “very positive” news.

Mr Chubais, the former privatisation tsar of post-Soviet Russia who quit his post as a Kremlin special envoy due to the war in Ukraine, is in intensive care in Europe with a rare immune disorder, two sources close to Mr Chubais have said.

They suggested Mr Chubais, 67, believes he is suffering from Guillain Barre syndrome, a disease caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system.

The first said: “He thinks it’s a disease. Doctors say they found it in time.”

A European intelligence agency is looking into the case but has not disclosed the results yet, that source said.

Some media and opposition activists have speculated Mr Chubais may have been poisoned.

Russian missiles pounded the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv early on Sunday, killing Mr Vadatursky, founder and owner of agriculture company Nibulon, and his wife were killed in their home, Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

Headquartered in Mykolaiv, a strategically important city that borders the mostly Russian-occupied Kherson region, Nibulon specialises in the production and export of wheat, barley and corn, and has its own fleet and shipyard.

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