Ukraine says Russian attacks are targeting grain export infrastructure, and Moscow has warned that any ships traveling on the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports could be considered military targets.
US announces new $1.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine
The United States announced a new $1.3 billion (€1.16 billion) military aid package for Ukraine featuring air defense systems, anti-tank missiles, drones and other equipment.
The package is part of US efforts to meet "Ukraine's pressing requirements by committing critical near-term capabilities while also building the enduring capacity of Ukraine's armed forces," the Defense Department said in a statement.
The assistance will not immediately arrive on the battlefield, as it falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance initiative, under which Washington procures equipment from the defense industry or partners, rather than drawing it from US stocks.
The package includes four National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and munitions,152 millimeter artillery rounds, mine clearing equipment and drones, according to the Pentagon.
The US Department of Defense announced the aid a day after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, allies assisting Ukraine as its forces press a counteroffensive against Russian troops occupying Ukrainian territory.
Overall, the US has sent over $40 billion in the form of security and military assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022.
Russia to consider Ukraine-bound ships as potential carriers of military cargo
Russia's Defense Ministry said it would consider all ships traveling to Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea as potential carriers of military cargo from midnight on Thursday morning Moscow time (2100 GMT on Wednesday), following the end of the Black Sea grain deal.
In a statement posted on the Telegram messenger app, the ministry said that it was declaring southeastern and northwestern parts of the Black Sea's international waters as unsafe for navigation, and that the flag states of ships travelling to Ukrainian ports would be considered parties to the conflict on the Ukrainian side.
Moscow's statement comes as Kyiv has urged other countries in the Black Sea region to intervene and assure the safe passage of cargo ships.
The Turkey-UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal, which was intended to facilitate Russian and Ukrainian agricultural exports, expired on July 17, after Russia declined to renew its participation.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was brokered in a bid to end a global food crisis caused by Russia's war in Ukraine, has allowed 32.9 million metric tons to get to the world, according to the UN. Russia pulled out of a deal.