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Kyiv confirms Saudi peace talks – SA to attend

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Picture: Heidi Levine/The Washington Post – Tetiana Lazarova stands Wednesday among twisted aluminum sheets near a storage facility that was struck by Russian missiles this month in the Ukrainian village of Pavlivka. Saudi Arabia will host a Ukrainian-backed peace summit to be attended by delegations from the United States, India, Brazil and South Africa, among other countries, the writers say.

By Staff Writers

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office confirmed Sunday that Saudi Arabia is preparing to host peace talks on behalf of Ukraine. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to attend the talks, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive plans.

The summit, which Russia is not attending, is reportedly intended to give Ukraine’s backers and other countries a chance to align positions on how to end the war, ahead of a wider-ranging summit later this year.

In Moscow, Kremlin officials accused Ukraine of targeting the Russian capital and Crimea early Sunday with drone strikes, all of which they said they thwarted.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Saudi Arabia will host a Ukrainian-backed peace summit to be attended by delegations from the United States, India, Brazil and South Africa, among other countries, the Associated Press reported. The office of Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak confirmed the plan to meet in Saudi Arabia. According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on plans for the talks in Jeddah on Aug. 5 and 6, the meeting is intended to pave the way for a summit later this year, when global leaders hope to declare their support for shared principles for a lasting peace.
  • Kyiv will discuss long-term security measures with Washington “this week,” Yermak said, referring to a recent agreement with Group of Seven nations. Yermak reiterated Ukraine’s desire to join NATO, though he acknowledged that the country would not be accepted into the defense group until the war ends. The White House did not immediately respond Sunday afternoon to a request for comment on the meeting.
  • Russia said it thwarted a drone attack on Moscow early Sunday and blamed Ukraine for the strike. One drone was stopped over Odintsovo, southwest of the capital, and two more crashed in Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said two office towers in the capital were “slightly damaged” but nobody was hurt or killed. A Ukrainian air force spokesman acknowledged strikes in Moscow, but did not say whether Kyiv was behind them. Russia’s report comes less than a week after it accused Ukraine of a drone attack on a Moscow skyscraper.
  • Russian officials also accused Ukraine of using drones to target Crimea, which Moscow invaded and illegally annexed in 2014. On Sunday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces intercepted and downed 25 Ukrainian drones aimed at the peninsula, adding that there were no reports of casualties or damage. A spokesman for Ukraine’s air force, Yuriy Ignat, acknowledged the drones in Moscow and Crimea but did not say whether Ukraine played a role. “There is always something flying in Russia, and in Moscow in particular,” he said.
  • A Soviet coat of arms was dismantled at the Motherland monument in Kyiv on Sunday. Crews will replace it with the Ukrainian trident symbol, despite low support for funding cultural works. Such wartime spending led Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko to resign this month; he posted a video of the dismantling Sunday.

Battleground updates

  • Russia’s navy is set to commission 30 ships into service this year, President Vladimir Putin said Sunday in St. Petersburg at the country’s annual Navy Day parade. “The Russian Federation is consistently building up the power of its fleet,” Putin said. Russia has depended on its navy to support its war in Ukraine – frequently using its Black Sea fleet, for example, to launch cruise missiles at Ukrainian land targets.
  • A Russian missile attack in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy killed two people and injured 20, Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post. Saturday’s attack on an educational facility also damaged a church, and 285 people were involved in a rescue operation.
  • Russia launched five missile strikes and 19 airstrikes across Ukraine, firing 30 times with multiple-launch rocket systems on cities and military forces, Ukraine’s armed forces said earlier. Ukraine’s military did not specify where all the attacks occurred, but Russia has in recent days targeted populated areas in southern Ukraine as Kyiv ramps up its counter-offensive.
  • Several thousand Wagner mercenaries have probably established themselves at a military camp in central Belarus, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. According to the ministry’s update Sunday, imagery shows hundreds of vehicles have arrived since mid-July at a facility in the Belarusian village of Tsel that was previously mostly empty. It comes as fears grow in Ukraine that new attacks could be launched from Belarus, a close Russian ally, since Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries relocated there after his short-lived mutiny against Russian defense officials last month.
  • Ukraine will be able to meet heating needs this winter, the country’s energy minister said. Speaking in a televised interview, German Galushchenko said Ukraine is using new ways to add power to its grid but did not specify how, according to Reuters. Russian attacks crippled Ukraine’s power grid last winter.

Global impact

  • Pope Francis called on Russia to restore the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which collapsed this month after Moscow withdrew from the deal and refused to guarantee the safety of agricultural cargo in the Black Sea. “I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea initiative may be resumed and grain may be transported safely,” Francis said Sunday during his Angelus prayer, Reuters reported. Over the weekend, Putin acknowledged publicly that Russian companies will earn more from the increase in global food prices resulting from Moscow’s withdrawal from the initiative.
  • The International Olympic Committee invited Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan to compete at next year’s Paris Olympics after she was disqualified from the Fencing World Championships in Milan for refusing a mandatory handshake with Russian opponent Anna Smirnova. “As a fellow fencer, it is impossible for me to imagine how you feel at this moment,” IOC President Thomas Bach wrote in a letter, which Kharlan shared on Instagram.

From our correspondents

  • In bombings of Odessa, Putin deepens economic war on Ukraine: Since Russia terminated the UN-brokered grain deal that allowed Ukrainian exports from the Black Sea, Russia has intensified attacks on Odessa, one of Ukraine’s major port regions, John Hudson and Anastacia Galouchka report.

As a result of the strikes, Odessa’s grain industry suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage. The attacks destroyed at least 60,000 tons of grain, enough to feed more than 270,000 people for a year, according to the UN World Food Programme.

Staff Writers: Bryan Pietsch, Leo Sands, Serhiy Morgunov, Tamia Fowlkes, Nick Parker, Michael Birnbaum. The Washington Post’s Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

This article was first published in The Washington Post