The update, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, also indicated that it is “highly likely” Russia has taken forces from other areas of the front line “to replace degraded units” near Robotyne. The redeployments, the ministry said, are “likely limiting” Russia’s capacity for executing offensive operations in other frontline areas and are “highly likely” indicative of pressure on Russia’s defensive lines, especially around Robotyne.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a letter last month that Russia would be eligible to apply for membership and access to the SWIFT banking system for food and fertilizer transactions.
The Russian Agricultural Bank subsidiary in Luxembourg could immediately apply to SWIFT to “effectively enable access” for the bank to the international payments system within 30 days, the United Nations told Russia in a letter, seen by Reuters on Friday.
In an effort to persuade Moscow to return to the U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative that had allowed the safe export through the Black Sea of Ukrainian grain, Guterres outlined four measures the United Nations could facilitate to improve Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports.
Guteres told Lavrov the U.N. was immediately ready to move on all measures “based on the clear understanding that their application would lead to the Russian Federation’s return to the Black Sea Initiative and the full resumption of operations.”
A key Russian demand has been the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the SWIFT system. It was cut off by the European Union in June of last year after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed skepticism in a statement Wednesday at the U.N. chief’s proposals.
“Instead of actual exemptions from sanctions, all Russia got was a new dose of promises from the U.N. Secretariat,” it said. “These recent proposals do not contain any new elements and cannot serve as a foundation for making any tangible progress in terms of bringing our agricultural exports back to normal.”
Russia exited the deal in July, a year after it was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey to combat a global food crisis the U.N. said was worsened by Russia’s invasion. Ukraine and Russia are both leading grain exporters.
In other developments, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin masterminded the death of Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in an unexplained plane crash with his top lieutenants last month.
Zelenskyy did not provide evidence to back up the claim he made in passing during a conference in Kyiv when he was asked a question about the Russian president.
“The fact that he killed Prigozhin — at least that’s the information we all have, not any other kind — that also speaks to his rationality, and about the fact that he is weak,” Zelenskyy said.
The Kremlin says all possible causes of the crash will be investigated, including the possibility of foul play. It has called the suggestion that Putin ordered the deaths of Prigozhin and his men an “absolute lie.”
Prigozhin led a short-lived mutiny in Russia in June that Putin characterized as treasonous and a “stab in the back.”