Putin on cluster bombs; Balanced grain agreement

(Bloomberg) – President Vladimir Putin discussed the US supply of cluster munitions to Kiev in a TV interview, saying Russia would retaliate if the weapons – which have already arrived in Ukraine – were used on its forces. The Russian leader dismissed Ukraine’s counteroffensive, saying “all attempts” to break through Russian defenses had failed. Ukraine’s armed forces have claimed tangible, albeit slow, progress in their attempt to repel occupying Russian forces in the south and east of the country.

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The Black Sea Grains Agreement that saw Ukraine export some 33 million tonnes of grain over the past year expires on Monday. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Russia would incur a “huge diplomatic cost” if it failed to agree to an extension. Putin sounded an optimistic note on the deal when he spoke to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, saying Russia’s demands had not been met. Vessels loading Ukrainian grain from Odessa on the Black Sea have been reduced to one, according to the UN.

Moscow-appointed officials said air defense systems repelled several Ukrainian-fired air and sea drones overnight in Sevastopol, the largest city on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. also shot down near Belgorod in southern Russia. Meanwhile, Kremlin forces attacked Kharkiv, about 80 km south of Belgorod, with S-300 missiles, regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.

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Cereal prices rise due to uncertainty in Ukraine

Wheat and maize prices rose for a second session on Friday as uncertainty looms over the future of Ukraine’s grain export deal.

Moscow has said more Ukrainian grain should be sent to developing countries, including in Africa – although its availability on the world market makes supplies more plentiful and cheaper, in general. Russia is currently the world’s largest wheat exporter.

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