First Odessa grain ship inspected in Turkey

Off the coast of Turkey, officials inspected the first ship carrying grain from the Ukrainian port city of Odessa as part of a deal to ease the global food crisis.

The Razoni will leave Turkish waters with more than 26,000 tonnes of maize and head for Lebanon after a three-hour inspection on Wednesday. The United Nations said the ship was ready to leave after Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN inspectors examined its cargo, clearing the way for three Ukrainian ports to restart the export of millions of tonnes of grain.

Here are other developments in the war:

-The Ukrainian mediator tries to contact his Russian counterpart to visit the prison of Olenivka, under separatist control in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow on Friday swapped responsibility for an explosion that killed at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war in the city of Mariupol. Dmytro Lubinets told The Associated Press that his request to visit went unanswered, as did repeated requests from the Red Cross, which called for ‘immediate access’ to POWs as required by international law .

-The head of the United Nations nuclear agency warned that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – is “completely out of control” in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Russian forces occupying the plant in the southeastern town of Enerhodar violated “all principles of nuclear security”, calling the situation “extremely serious and dangerous”. He implored Russia and Ukraine to allow the IAEA to inspect the site.

– Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink has accused Russian forces of using the Zaporizhzhia power plant “as the equivalent of a nuclear shield”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told diplomats gathered at UN headquarters in New York for a nuclear non-proliferation conference on Monday that Russia was firing at Ukrainians from the power plant, “knowing that they cannot and will not retaliate” for fear of hitting nuclear reactors or stored waste.

– The southern city of Mykolaiv reported shelling during the night. Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said a building and a supermarket were damaged in the frontline city.

-As the fighting spreads to the east, Ukrainians arrived in the west on an emergency evacuation train. Ukrainian authorities said this week that they were ordering the evacuation of thousands of civilians in the Donetsk region.

– Far from the front lines, Russian missiles hit military infrastructure in the western Lviv region near the border with Poland, the regional governor said on Wednesday. He said no one was injured in Tuesday’s strike.

-Russia’s war in Ukraine has made Taiwan’s security another “center of global attention”, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said during a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D- California. His trip has drawn ire from China, which claims the self-governing island as part of its territory.

-The Senate will vote on Wednesday to approve Sweden and Finland joining NATO, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., announced. Washington has backed bids by the two Nordic nations to join the Western defense alliance. Their NATO candidacies represent a tectonic shift for the two militarily non-aligned countries, sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

– The war, now in its sixth month, has forced more than 12 million people from their homes. Nearly 6.2 million people have fled to other European countries and more than 6.3 million are internally displaced in Ukraine, according to the latest UN figures.

– German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has accused Moscow of unnecessarily cutting gas exports. The Chancellor spoke in Mülheim, where a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline is stored because Russia refused to accept it after maintenance in Canada, citing problems with paperwork. Scholz said the paperwork was in order and Moscow could meet its commitments even without the turbine.

Sharon P. Juarez