UNITED NATIONS -- A United Nations official says the U.N. is “cautiously optimistic” a wartime deal that has enabled Ukraine to export over 11 million metric tons of wheat and Russia to ship its grain and fertilizer to world markets will be renewed.
The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Wednesday that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed an extension of the deal with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia this week and considered the meeting “very positive.”
The deal, which established a Black Sea shipping corridor and an inspection process, was approved on July 22 through separate agreements with Russia and Ukraine. It is set to expire on Saturday.
Guterres has said the deal was critical in addressing a global food crisis following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and warned of shortages and skyrocketing prices if it isn't extended.
Russia’s U.N. ambassadors had complained last month that more needed to be done to facilitate its exports of grain and fertilizers.
Under the separate agreements brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, the deal will be extended for another 120 days unless either Moscow or Kyiv objects.
— By Edith M. Lederer
— Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn’t a Russian attack
— NATO sees no Russia threat amid Poland blast investigation
— Biden: ‘Unlikely’ missile that hit Poland fired from Russia
— Biden asks for over $37 billion in emergency Ukraine aid
— ‘War not an excuse:’ Ukraine rail boss keeps trains running
— Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine — The governor of a province in western Ukraine says it will take up to a year to fully restore the power grid after Russia’s massive missile barrage on Tuesday.
The Governor of Lviv province, Maksym Kozytskyy, said Wednesday that though power is back up for around 95% of the province, only 30% of consumers can use electricity at the same time due to capacity limits.
Kozytskyy said the province was better prepared for the latest Russian attack on the grid. Engineers were able to work with the help of diesel generators, and substations in the region had been equipped with additional protective shields.
Also, a large number of cars with loudspeakers were quickly deployed to inform local people about what was happening, he said.
GENEVA — The international Red Cross says it has deployed a team including medical staff, water engineers and specialists in demining and handling ordnance to Kherson after Russian troops pulled out of the southern Ukrainian city.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has delivered to two hospitals in Kherson enough medical supplies to treat 500 injured patients and 2,000 people in need of primary health care.
The ICRC said Wednesday that hygiene kits, a water truck and food parcels were also part of the aid ferried in a day earlier.
The Geneva-based humanitarian aid organization said the city’s people face many needs, including improved telecommunications connectivity, access to electricity and heating, and drinking water.
When Ukraine recaptured Kherson last week the city had almost no power, no water and barely any cellphone coverage. Food and medicines were also in short supply. Departing Russians destroyed key infrastructure and left booby traps around the city.
LONDON — Britain says it won’t rush to judgment about why a missile landed in rural Poland, close to the border with Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Wednesday the British government is waiting for the facts to emerge.
He noted that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday’s incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired against Russian air attacks on Ukraine.
Cleverly told lawmakers that “Russia bears the ultimate responsibility” for the two deaths in the incident because “the only reason why missiles are flying through European skies and exploding in European villages is because of Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.”
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has agreed to train up to 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers on Czech territory.
The Defense Ministry said Wednesday the training will include five rotations with up to 800 soldiers in each of them. The first rotation is scheduled for this year, the rest for 2023.
The Defense Ministry said the program is based on a bilateral agreement between the Czech Republic and Ukraine but will be later incorporated into a European Union military training mission which the bloc approved last month.
Several EU and NATO nations are already training Ukraine’s armed forces on a bilateral basis.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s chief diplomat says the flow of oil in a pipeline taking Russian oil across Ukraine to Central European countries has resumed after repairs.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says that heavy Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure Tuesday halted the supply to several countries in Central Europe.
Szijjarto said Wednesday that repairs on the Druzhba, or “Friendship,” pipeline had allowed oil to begin flowing again, albeit at low pressure.
The pipeline is one of the world’s longest. It takes Russian oil into Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia and other countries.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted the energy supply to other countries in the region. Moldova also reported massive power outages on Tuesday after the Russian strikes downed a key power line to the small nation.
PRZEWODOW, Poland — A resident of the Polish border village where a missile landed says the two victims of the blast were men around 60 years of age.
Kinga Kancir, from the village of Przewodow in eastern Poland near Ukraine, said Wednesday both men worked at the village grain-drying facility.
“One was a guard, who guarded everything there, the other one was the tractor driver” who transported all the grain, Kancir, 24, told The Associated Press.
The men were killed by a missile that landed Tuesday in the village. NATO officials say the blast appears to have been an accident, not an attack on Poland by Russia.
“One of the victims was our neighbour who lived across from our apartment bloc,” Kancir said. “The other one lived in the neighboring village.”
She said there is “fear, anxiety” in the village about what the future might hold.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the United States intends to keep up its flow of weapons and assistance to Ukraine through the winter.
Austin said at the Pentagon on Wednesday the aid will help Kyiv maintain the pressure on Russia after the Kremlin withdrew its forces from the southern city of Kherson, in a major battlefield setback for Moscow.
“We’re going to maintain our momentum throughout the winter so that Ukraine can continue to consolidate gains and seize the initiative on the battlefield,” Austin said.
He spoke ahead of the seventh Ukraine Contact Group meeting, where NATO and partner nations meet to coordinate security assistance for Kyiv.
This meeting was also to address training for Ukrainian troops, Austin said.
The U.S. to date has provided $18.6 billion in weapons and equipment to Ukraine.
BERLIN — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog says there will be more consultations this week and next on his calls for Ukraine and Russia to agree to a safety zone around Ukraine’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been urging agreement on such a zone for over two months.
Repeated shelling around Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant has contributed to it being disconnected from the grid on several occasions and fueled fears of a potential catastrophe.
Grossi said Wednesday that the main issues under discussion involve military equipment and the radius of the zone. He said in Vienna that the IAEA’s proposal is “very feasible.”
Grossi added that “what we are proposing is very simple: don’t shoot at the plant, don’t shoot from the plant” and that there are “not that many” points that are still in doubt.
He said an agreement would reflect a “very serious political commitment of both sides to stop doing something that is still taking place, and I’m not attributing anything.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv police say a 69-year-old woman was killed by rocket fragments while visiting her husband’s grave.
The head of Kyiv’s regional police force, Andriy Nebytov, said Wednesday the woman received a fatal wound while she was at the cemetery.
Writing on Telegram, Nebytov attributed her death Tuesday to Russian shelling.
He said the woman was from a village some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Kyiv.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says a missile blast in Poland that killed two people near the border with Ukraine was probably not an attack by Russia.
He said Wednesday it was likely a Ukrainian air defense missile that went astray.
“An investigation into this incident is ongoing and we need to await its outcome. But we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack,” Stoltenberg told reporters after emergency talks between NATO envoys.
Stoltenberg said that NATO has “no indication that Russia is preparing action” against any member of the 30-nation military alliance.
But he said that the incident happened because of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“This is not Ukraine’s fault, Russia bears ultimate responsibility,” he said.
BERLIN — The German defense ministry says it will offer Poland support in patrolling its airspace.
“The patrols will come from German air force bases -- we have already done this earlier this year until July, it is tried and tested,” spokesman Christian Thiels said Wednesday.
He added that the German defense minister would talk to her Polish counterpart later in the day about the offer.
“This can be done as early as tomorrow, if Poland wishes,” Thiels said, adding that the jets do not need to be moved to Poland for the operation.
WARSAW — Poland’s President Andrzej Duda says there is no evidence a missile that hit Poland near its border with Ukraine was an “intentional attack.”
Duda said Wednesday that the landing of the Russian-made missile in a rural area, killing two people, was mostly likely an accident.
“It was not an attack on Poland,” Duda said, adding that Tuesday’s incident involved “most probably a Russian-made missile.”
“We have no proof at this point to suggest the missile was fired by the Russian side,” Duda said.
He added: “There is high probability that it was a missile used for anti-missile defense, meaning it was used by Ukraine’s defense forces.”
“Ukraine’s defense was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish territory,” Duda said.
Even so, he said the ultimate responsibility lies with Russia, which launched a barrage of missile attacks on Ukraine on Tuesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron is urging caution amid speculation about a missile landing in Poland, saying it was too early to know what happened.
Speaking at a press conference in Bali, Indonesia, where he was attending a G-20 summit Wednesday, the French leader said that “analysis is underway” with regard to the blast near Poland’s border with Ukraine that killed two people.
“There is preliminary work that was shared by the United States but we must remain careful,” Macron said.
Macron said he was in contact with Polish authorities. He also said he had spoken to Ukraine’s president to reaffirm solidarity following a spate of Russian strikes the previous day.
Macron said “China can play a greater mediation role, alongside us, in the coming months,” adding that he had talked about a potential meeting in Beijing next year with President Xi Jinping.
KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says homes in the Ukrainian capital are still getting heating, despite Russian attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure.
That’s because Kyiv’s critical infrastructure facilities are equipped with generators and fuel in case of outages.
Klitschko said on his Telegram channel Wednesday that the previous day’s Russian missile barrage caused mass blackouts.
He said the grid has been “stabilized,” but provided no further details.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak wants European nations to “close the sky” over Ukraine, after a Russian-made missile landed in Poland.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Podolyak stressed that “only Russia is responsible for the war in Ukraine and massive missile strikes” and “only Russia is behind the rapidly growing risks for the border countries.”
“No need to look for excuses and postpone key decisions. Time for Europe to ‘close the sky over (Ukraine).’ For your own safety too,” he said.
After Russia invaded last February, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky urged NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Western leaders rejected the idea amid concerns about triggering a wider war in Europe.
BERLIN — German defense company Rheinmetall says it will supply 15 Leopard battle tanks to NATO ally Slovakia, which will be sending Soviet-era equipment of its own to Ukraine.
Rheinmetall said Wednesday that the first of the Leopard 2A4 tanks will be shipped in December and the delivery should be complete by the end of next year. They are overhauled tanks previously used by various countries. The deal includes ammunition, training and spare parts.
Germany has been keen to promote such deals under which Eastern NATO allies hand off Soviet-era equipment to Kyiv and get modern equipment from Germany. There have been similar agreements with the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Greece.
Also Wednesday, Sweden said it would provide Ukraine with military aid worth 3 billion Swedish kronor ($290 million) and a humanitarian aid package worth 720 million kroner ($70 million).
The aid package, the largest by Sweden to Kyiv so far, includes an air defense system with ammunition.
MOSCOW — The Kremlin is offering rare praise for the United States, applauding President Joe Biden’s “restrained” reaction to reports about a Russian-made missile landing in Poland.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dismissed much of the reaction to the missile hit as “hysterical, frenzied.”
NATO allies are investigating how and why a missile that Poland said was Russian-made came down in Polish farmland, killing two, on Tuesday, amid a large-scale bombardment of Ukraine targets by Moscow’s forces.
Biden said it was “unlikely” that Russia fired the missile but added: “We’ll see.”
Elsewhere, officials expressed alarm that the war could be escalating and spread to neighboring countries.
Peskov said that “high-ranking officials from different countries made statements without having any idea what happened exactly, what caused it, and so on.”
Asked to comment on Tuesday’s barrage of strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Peskov said that “objects that directly or indirectly have to do with military infrastructure” were targeted.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator says power will be out across large areas of Ukraine on Wednesday after Russia’s biggest bombardment of the country’s energy infrastructure in the nearly nine-month war.
Ukrenergo said the outages will be both scheduled and unannounced, due to emergency work being carried out.
Russia fired over 90 missiles and over 10 attack drones at Ukraine on Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. Ukrainian forces shot down 77 missiles and 11 drones, it said.
The Ukrainian energy minister said the attack was “the most massive” bombardment of power facilities in the nearly 9-month-old invasion, striking both power generation and transmission systems.
Ukraine’s presidential office says at least six civilians were killed on by the Russian attacks and another 17 were wounded.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Operational Command South says the Ukrainian army is shelling the left bank of the Dnieper River, where the Russian military recently dug in after retreating from the southern city of Kherson.
It said on its Facebook page that Ukrainian forces carried out more than 50 strikes around the Kinburn Spit, in Mykolaiv province, which is currently under the control of the Russian army.
The spit is said to be a key site for Russian electronic warfare and of strategic importance for coordinating Russian shelling of the right bank of the Dnieper River and southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces also destroyed ammunition depots in Nova Kakhovka and Oleshky on the Dnieper’s left bank, Operational Command South said.
In the eastern Donetsk province, the Russian army shelled seven towns and villages, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Heavy fighting is underway in the region for the city of Bakhmut.
Over the previous 24 hours, four civilians were killed and seven were wounded in the region. “Every day of the war raises the question of survival for those who are forced to live for months in basements without light and heat, fleeing from Russian shelling,” Kyrylenko said on Ukrainian TV.
KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says two residential buildings were damaged on Tuesday during Russia’s “massive attack on the capital”, killing one elderly woman, but the Russian military denied responsibility.
Writing on Telegram on Wednesday, Klitschko said the entrance to one of the buildings — a five-story block — was significantly damaged. Residents were evacuated, and authorities are assessing the full extent of the damage.
But a spokesman for Russia’s defense ministry denied those claims, saying Moscow didn’t launch “a single missile attack on targets in the city of Kyiv” on Tuesday.
Igor Konashenkov blamed the damage in residential areas on “the fall and self-destruction” of anti-aircraft missiles fired by Ukrainian troops