Russia, Ukraine extend grain deal despite fierce fighting

Russia and Ukraine agreed Wednesday to prolong a pact permitting grain exports over the Black Sea, a rare display of collaboration as the war rages and one of Kyiv’s vital Patriot anti-missile defense systems was verified to have been destroyed.

The grain agreement was praised by the United Nations and the United States, while both called for more certainty in exports as Russia threatened to terminate the treaty, which is critical to world food security.

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The deal came as Ukraine’s foreign minister met with China’s special envoy in Kyiv, insisting that the war-torn country would not accept any peace plan based on territorial concessions.

China, a strong friend of Russia, has not openly denounced Russia’s incursion, and envoy Li Hui has pushed to support Beijing-led peace talks.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during his meeting with Li that “Ukraine does not accept any proposals that involve the loss of its territories or the freezing of the conflict.”

Since Russia’s invasion, Western armaments, largely from the United States, have rushed into Ukraine, including Patriot systems to assist protect civilians and infrastructure from persistent missile assaults.

US officials revealed Wednesday that one of the only two Patriot systems reported to be in Ukraine was damaged by an unnamed projectile landing nearby, but that it was still operational.

The Russian defense ministry claimed on Tuesday that its forces had hit a Patriot system in Kyiv with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile, although this allegation has yet to be substantiated.

Ukraine’s air defenses have been critical in safeguarding the country from strikes and preventing Moscow from taking control of the sky.

However, when Russia suffered mounting reverses on the ground, it launched air attacks that disrupted power, water, and heat for millions of civilians.

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