(Bloomberg) — Russian President Vladimir Putin met in St. Petersburg with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko. In comments broadcast on Russian TV, Lukashenko referred to Wagner’s militia fighters now gathering en masse in Belarus, saying they asked him for “permission” to “take a trip to Warsaw”, adding “of course I keep them in central Belarus, as we agreed”.
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The comments were the latest provocative remarks by Russia or its ally about NATO member Poland, which recently bolstered its border with Belarus with additional troops. Putin claimed on Friday that Polish authorities were considering seizing parts of western Ukraine – a comment that saw Poland summon the Russian ambassador. Lukashenko also referred on Sunday to the “dismemberment of Ukraine and the transfer of land to Poland”.
Russia unleashed a missile barrage on Odessa overnight, the largest in a series of almost daily strikes after Moscow withdrew from the UN-brokered Ukrainian grain export deal on July 17. The attack damaged port infrastructure, homes and other buildings, including parts of the city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A total of 19 missiles were launched by Kremlin forces, with air defense able to shoot down nine. “There will definitely be reprisals against Russian terrorists for Odessa. They will feel this retaliation,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Twitter post.
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Wheat futures fell more than 4% on Friday, taking a breather after jumping about 11% over three days as traders focused on plentiful global supplies even amid ongoing tensions in the Black Sea.
Ukraine and Russia warned this week that ships heading for each other’s ports could be seen as military targets, setting off alarm bells. Friday’s comments from Russia’s deputy foreign minister suggested the worst concerns were overblown.
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