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Latest in Ukraine: Kyiv Says Jeddah Talks Were ‘Huge Blow’ to Russia

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:

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Talks aimed at restoring peace in Ukraine held this past weekend in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, dealt a “huge blow” to Russia as the participants agreed to a follow-up meeting, presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said Monday.

“We will hold another meeting within a month, month-and-a-half and we will move towards [holding] a summit,” Yermak said at a news briefing.

Senior officials from 42 countries participated in the two-day Jeddah peace summit. Russia was not invited to the high-level talks.

Yermak said all the countries present at the talks in Jeddah fully supported Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity, and that only peace initiatives put forward by Ukraine were discussed at the meeting.

He acknowledged that the participants had not come to an agreement on parts of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula that calls for the withdrawal of all Russian troops and the return of all Ukrainian territory to its control.

The high-level talks included delegates from the world economies of the BRICS group, Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

Moscow chided efforts by international officials meeting in Saudi Arabia to find a peaceful resolution for the Ukraine war without including Russia in the talks which, it said, do not have “the slightest added value.”

During the two-day summit, the head of Brazil’s delegation, foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim, stressed that “any real negotiation must include all parties,” including Russia, according to a copy of his statement shared with AFP.

Moscow dismissed the talks as a doomed Western attempt to align the Global South behind Kyiv.

But neutral China, which agreed to participate in the peace summit, said it would uphold an independent and impartial position on a Ukraine peace settlement.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi made these comments in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Wang said China would serve as an “objective and rational voice” at any international multilateral forums and “actively promote peace talks.

Western officials and analysts said Saudi diplomacy had been important in securing China’s presence at the talks.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom has kept ties with both sides presenting itself as a mediator and seeking a bigger role on the world stage.

Russia grain attacks

U.N. Spokesperson Farhan Haq said at a news briefing Monday, that the Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown visited the Danube port of Izmail Saturday, three days after it was hit in an attack damaging a grain storage facility, damaging thousands of tons of grain that would have been enough to feed approximately 66 million people for a day.

This attack, which is not an isolated incident, follows Russia’s decision to exit the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a move that is already impacting global food prices and is affecting the most vulnerable people.

The secretary-general already condemned Russia’s intensification of attacks on Ukrainian ports, calling for the immediate cessation of all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continues to sound the alarm about the plight of civilians already facing a dire situation in Ukraine, as the intensification of attacks affecting critical civilian infrastructure in the country will likely worsen humanitarian needs.

Ukrainian counteroffensive

The Ukrainian counteroffensive is progressing at a steady pace Ukraine’s commander-in-chief said Monday.

Kyiv’s defensive lines are stable as troops are repelling Russian attempts to counterattack and distract Ukrainian forces from other parts of the front, Valerii Zaluzhnyi said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

“Heavy fighting is underway, and step-by-step, Ukrainian troops are continuing to create the conditions to advance. The initiative is on our side,” Zaluzhnyi said after a telephone call with U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley.

Ukraine has so far recaptured several villages in the south and regained some territory around the ravaged city of Bakhmut in the east but has not achieved a breakthrough yet against heavily entrenched Russian lines.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said Russia was using all its resources to stop Kyiv’s advance, but that Ukrainian troops were advancing steadily toward the southern cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov.

Ukrainian officials have responded to criticism that the counteroffensive is going slowly, saying they are trying to avoid high casualties as they attack well-fortified Russian lines that are strewn with landmines.

In its latest assessment on the war in Ukraine, Britain’s defense ministry said Monday, Russia’s air force continues to deploy “considerable resources” in support of ground operations in Ukraine, “but without operational effect.”

The ministry says Russian tactical combat aircraft have typically carried out over 100 missions a day, but they are almost always restricted to Russian-controlled territory “due to the threat from Ukrainian air defenses.”

The assessment also said that while Russian attack helicopters had proved effective at the start of Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive that began in June, it appears to be less able “to generate effective tactical airpower in the south.

Some information for this story came from VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer, The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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