VLADIMIR Putin's block on vital grain exports has rendered starving African nations the "victims of war", the African Union head has said.

On Friday, Senegalese President and African Union Chair Macky Sall strode into a meeting and shook a smiling Vladimir Putin's hand before taking a seat next to him to discuss the war in Ukraine.

In a notable reversal of typical roles, Sall led an African delegation to Russia to hold talks with the Russian president over the European war.

The apparently cosy scene — which took place in the southwestern city Sochi on the 100th day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine — marked a significant step forward in Sall's efforts to boost Africa's global political standing.

"A large part of humanity is very attentive to what is happening" in Ukraine, Sall said, raising the need to free up cereal and fertiliser stocks for export.

"I came to see you to ask that you be aware that our countries, though they are far from the theatre [of war], are the victims of this crisis on an economic level," he said.

Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine and a barrage of international sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of fertiliser, wheat and other commodities from both countries.

Cereal prices in Africa, the world's poorest continent, have surged, sharpening the impact of conflict and climate change and sparking fears of social unrest.

Read our Ukraine war blog below for the latest rolling news and updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    French Open champion Swiatek urges Ukraine to 'stay strong'

    World number one and newly crowned French Open women's champion Iga Swiatek of Poland urged Ukraine on Saturday to "stay strong" amid the ongoing invasion by Russia.

    Swiatek, who played the entire tournament with a ribbon in the Ukrainian colours pinned to her cap, said after beating American Coco Gauff in straight sets: "I would like to say something on Ukraine. Stay strong, the war is still there."

    The men's and women's tennis tours have banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the invasion, which Moscow calls a "special military operation", but allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Russia unleashes ‘hypersonic missile’ on NATO supply line

    Russia has unleashed a hypersonic missile on NATO supply lines inside Ukraine in a desperate attempt to stop arms crossing the border.

    Kalibr cruise missiles stuck the Beskydy railway tunnel in the Carpathian Mountains overnight, reports claim.

    The missiles were launched from a warship in the Black Sea and was captured on camera by a family caught up in the horror.

    They recorded the strike in Lviv region, reporting that two missiles had hit the area.

    Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko and Lviv governor Maksym Kozytskyy confirmed the late evening attack.

    “The goal is to try to disrupt the railway communication and stop the supply of fuel and weapons from our allies,” he said.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Chernobyl pics show destruction left behind by Russian forces 

    SHOCKING pictures reveal the chaos left behind by Russian troops at the Chernobyl nuclear site as they trashed the area before retreating.

    In a total disregard for safety regulations at the highly radioactive site, soldiers left live electrical wiring uncovered, broke windows and left stacks of litter strewn over floors and worktops.

    Putin‘s troops also graffitied walls with taunting messages toward Ukrainian defenders.

    Chernobyl is considered one of the most radioactive places on earth after the deadly nuclear disaster in 1986.

    Russian troops took control of the site after they seized it in the early days of the invasion, sparking fears of a major radioactive disaster as a result of heavy fighting around the plant.

    The careless soldiers dug trenches in the highly toxic Red Forest zone, just a few miles west of the plant, but retreated as part of a pull-out from around the capital Kyiv at the start of April.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ukraine SLAMS Macron's call to not humiliate Russia

    Kyiv criticised Saturday comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently repeated that Moscow should not be humiliated to improve chances of diplomatically resolving the war in Ukraine.

    "Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media, urging Russia instead to be "put in its place", to "bring peace and save lives".

  • Joseph Gamp

    One injured after Ukraine launches strike on Russian village

    The governor of Russia's western Bryansk region says one man has been left injured by shrapnel and two houses set on fire after Ukraine's forces carried out strikes on a village.

    Alexander Bogomaz, the governor, said the man was treated in a local hospital.

    Ukraine's officials were not immediately available to comment.

    Russia has blamed Ukraine for sporadic attacks on its border regions, including Bryansk, since the start of what Moscow calls a "special military operation" on Feb. 24.

  • Matt Snape

    Russian forces suffering ‘huge losses’

    A local governor says Ukrainian military has “pushed back” Russian forces in battle for control of the city, according to The Guardian.

     

  • Matt Snape

    End ‘sister city’ status, Zelensky urges US cities

    Ukraine's President has urged US mayors to end ties with Russian cities they hold "twin" city relationships with.

    BBC News reports that Volodymyr Zelensky said to the US Conference of Mayors: "Tyrants must not be allowed to enjoy ties to the free world. Any ties."

    He gave the examples of Chicago which names Moscow as a sister city, as well as Jacksonville and Murmansk, San Diego and Vladivostok, as well as Albany and Tula.

  • Matt Snape

    Hundreds of people are fleeing the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine every day, said the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Lyakh, on Saturday.

    “The number of people leaving (the city) has almost doubled, both by evacuation buses and their own vehicles, people are actively leaving,” Lyakh said to CNN.

  • Matt Snape

    Russia shot down Ukrainian military plane near Odesa

    Moscow claims its forces have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane consisting of weapons and munitions near the Black Sea port of Odesa.

    BBC News reports that the Russian defence ministry said that the plane was transporting weapons and munitions.

    It also claimed a missile strike in the same region had hit an outpost for "foreign mercenaries".

  • Matt Snape

    Moscow ‘destroying bridges’ in Donbas

    Moscow’s forces are destroying bridges across the Seversky Donets river in an attempt to block Ukrainian reinforcements from providing aid to civilians in the town of Sievierodonetsk, a local official has said.

    According to independent.co.uk, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai also said on live television the Ukrainian military was continuing to preserve its positions inside the town, and was pushing back Russian troops in several locations.

  • Matt Snape

    Ukraine claims fightback in crucial city

    A Ukrainian Governor has suggested his troops have recaptured a chunk of the city of Severodonetsk – just days after announcing a strategic withdrawal from the city.

    BBC News reports that Sergiy Haidai said Russians had previously captured about 70 percent of the city.

    But he then said Ukrainian troops had reclaimed a substantial portion of Severodonetsk.

  • Matt Snape

    'Not realistic' for Russian forces to capture Severodonetsk

    Ukrainian soldiers have recaptured a chunk of the city of Severodonetsk, it is claimed.

    Sky News reports that Serhiy Hayday, Governor of Luhansk region, said Ukrainian forces have retaken 20 per cent of the territory they had lost in the factory city.

    He said the gains meant it was "not realistic" that the city would fall in the next two weeks.

  • Matt Snape

    Starving Africans are victims of Ukrainian conflict, Macky Sall tells Putin

    Russia should help ease the suffering of innocent Africans who have suffered due to the country’s war with Ukraine, the head of the African Union has told Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Russia.

    BBC News reports that after talks in Sochi, Macky Sall said the Russian leader had promised to ease the export of cereals and fertiliser, but gave no details.

    Mr Sall, who is also Senegal's President, informed Mr Putin he must be "aware that our countries, even if they are far from the theatre of action, are victims of this economic crisis".

  • Matt Snape

    Minister confirms Ukraine's intelligence in communication with captured Azovstal fighters

    Ukraine’s intelligence services are in communication with the imprisoned Azovstal steelworks fighters and Kyiv is doing all it can to guarantee their release, according to Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy.

    According to theguardian.com, Ukraine wants the fighters to be returned in a prisoner swap. However, some Russian officials have said forces could be tried or executed.

    Monastyrskiy said on Ukrainian television on Friday: “It is through them [intelligence services] that we are learning about the conditions of the detention, nutrition and the possibility of their release.

    “We all know that they will all be here, in Kyiv, and we are doing everything possible to do so.”

  • Matt Snape

    Russia conducting ‘assault operations’ in Sievierodonetsk and reinforcing troops

    Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russia had deployed artillery to conduct “assault operations” in Sievierodonetsk and had reinforced its soldiers.

    According to theguardian.com, Russian forces had evacuated after thwarted attempts to advance in Bakhmut and cut off access to Sievierodonetsk.

    On Friday, Serhiy Gaidai, the head of the eastern region of Luhansk, said on national television that Ukrainian troops have recaptured around 20 per cent of the land they lost in Sievierodonetsk.

  • Louis Allwood

    Lukashenko would allow Ukrainian grain to transit Belarus in exchange for access to Baltic ports 

    Minsk is ready to allow the transit of Ukraine’s grain to Baltic sea ports via Belarus if it is allowed to ship Belarusian goods from these ports, the Belta news agency quoted Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko as saying on Friday.

    The topic was discussed in a phone call between Lukashenko and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday, Belta added.

  • Louis Allwood

    Help those fleeing conflict with The Sun’s Ukraine Fund

    Many of you want to help the five million caught in the chaos — and now you can, by donating to The Sun’s Ukraine Fund.

    Give as little as £3 or as much as you can afford and every penny will be donated to the Red Cross on the ground helping women, children, the old, the infirm and the wounded.

    Donate here to help The Sun’s fund

    Or text to 70141 from UK mobiles

    £3 — text SUN£3
    £5 — text SUN£5
    £10 — text SUN£10

    Texts cost your chosen donation amount (e.g. £5) +1 standard message (we receive 100%). For full T&Cs visit redcross.org.uk/mobile

  • Louis Allwood

    Zelenskyy: 200,000 children forcefully taken to Russia

    At least 200,000 children, including from orphanages and those separated from their families, are among the Ukrainians who have been forcibly taken to Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky said today.

    Marking International Children’s Day, Mr Zelensky accused Russia of abducting children to make them forget about Ukraine, saying: “The purpose of this criminal policy is not just to steal people but to make those who are deported forget about Ukraine and unable to return”.

    Ukraine will punish those responsible, Mr Zelensky said, adding: “Ukraine cannot be conquered, that our people will not surrender and our children will not become the property of the occupiers”.

    Ukraine has seen the killing of 243 children in the war, and 446 have been injured with another 139 are missing, Mr Zelensky said.

  • Louis Allwood

    EU formally approves embargo on Russian oil

    The European Union on Friday formally approved an embargo on Russian oil and other sanctions targeting major banks and broadcasters over Moscows war on Ukraine.

    EU headquarters says Russian crude oil will be phased out over six months, and other refined petroleum products over eight months.

    It says that a temporary exception is foreseen for landlocked countries like Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia that suffer from a specific dependence on Russian supplies and have no viable alternative options.

    Bulgaria and Croatia will also get temporary derogations for certain kinds of oil. EU leaders say the move means that around 90% of Russias oil exports to Europe will be blocked by years end. The EU imports around 25% of its oil from Russia.

  • Louis Allwood

    Russia unleashes ‘hypersonic missile’ on NATO supply line

    Russia has unleashed a hypersonic missile on NATO supply lines inside Ukraine in a desperate attempt to stop arms crossing the border.

    Kalibr cruise missiles stuck the Beskydy railway tunnel in the Carpathian Mountains overnight, reports claim.

    The missiles were launched from a warship in the Black Sea and was captured on camera by a family caught up in the horror.

    They recorded the strike in Lviv region, reporting that two missiles had hit the area.

    Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko and Lviv governor Maksym Kozytskyy confirmed the late evening attack.

    “The goal is to try to disrupt the railway communication and stop the supply of fuel and weapons from our allies,” he said.

  • Louis Allwood

    McDonald's Russia files rebrand names – report

    McDonald's new Russian owners have put up a list of new names for the burger chain after the fast-food giant pulled out of the country over the war in Ukraine.

    The fast-food chain announced on 20th May that they had sold nearly 850 restaurants to Russian billionaire Alexander Govor after closing stores in response to the invasion.

    Now the new owners have submitted a series of potential new names to the Russian patents office, Rospatent.

    Russian news site RBC stated they had seen the documents sent to Rospatent, and reported that potential name changes include 'The Same One', 'Fun and Tasty', 'Open Checkout', and 'The Only Way'.

    A McDonald's spokesperson told RBC: "We are working on creating a new brand and have already sent applications for the registration of several names. In the future, one of all registered names will be selected."

  • Louis Allwood

    Russia's pacific fleet begins week-long exercises

    Russia's Pacific Fleet launched a week-long series of exercises with more than 40 ships and up to 20 aircraft taking part, Russian news agencies quoted the defence ministry as saying.

    The ministry statement said the exercises, taking place from June 3-10, would involve, among other matters, "groups of ships together with naval aviation taking part in search operations for (enemy) submarines".

    The exercises were taking place amid Russia's three-month-old incursion into Ukraine, described by Moscow as a "special military operation". Ukraine lies thousands of kilometres to the west of where the exercises are occurring in the Pacific.

  • Louis Allwood

    Zelensky: Russia occupies 20% of Ukraine's territory

    Russia is currently occupying about 20% of Ukraine's territory, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Luxembourg's parliament in a video address on Thursday.

    "We have to defend ourselves against almost the entire Russian army. All combat-ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression," he said, adding that the front lines of battle stretched across more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles).

  • Louis Allwood

    Ukraine seeks UN-backed mission to export grain shipments through Black Sea

    Ukraine is working with international partners to create a United Nations-backed mission to restore Black Sea shipping routes and export Ukrainian farm produce, foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Thursday.

    Russia has captured some of Ukraine's biggest seaports and its navy controls major transport routes in the Black Sea, blocking Ukrainian shipments and deepening a global food crisis.

    "We call on countries whose food security may suffer more from Russian aggression against Ukraine to use their contacts with Moscow to force it to lift the blockade of Ukrainian seaports and end the war," Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

  • Louis Allwood

    Moscow calls EU move to phase out Russian oil 'self-destructive'

    Russia warned on Thursday that the European Union's decision to partially phase out Russian oil would likely destabilize global energy markets, calling it a 'self-destructive' step that could backfire on the bloc.

    EU leaders agreed in principle on Monday to cut 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of this year, the bloc's toughest sanctions yet since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation".

    "The European Union's decisions to partially phase out Russian oil and oil products, as well as to ban insurance on Russian merchant ships, are highly likely to provoke further price increases, destabilize energy markets, and disrupt supply chains," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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