Moscow will shut down the Black Sea Grain deal that allows Ukraine to feed much of the developing world if the Group of Seven nations decides to ban all exports to Russia, a top Russian official said Sunday.
The G-7 countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan – are considering a near-total ban on exports to Russia, media outlets in multiple countries reported last week. Russia has for months threatened to halt the grain deal now set to expire next month.
“This idea from the idiots at the G7 about a total ban of exports to our country by default is beautiful in that it implies a reciprocal ban on imports from our country,” former Russian president and current deputy of its security council Dmitry Medvedev said in a post on his Telegram channel, adding “In such a case, the grain deal – and many other things that they need – will end for them.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the G-7 nations’ sanctions have focused more on halting import of Russian goods and less on exporting goods to Russia. The import sanctions have forced Russia to sell oil, natural gas and other goods at a discount to India, China and other nations willing to ignore the sanctions. The new plan would add to the list of goods that would no longer be sold to Russia.
►The first American-made Patriot air defense system has been put on combat duty in Ukraine, the Ukraine Air Force said Sunday. Ukraine Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said the system will make it possible to shoot down Russia’s Iskander-M ballistic missiles and repel Russian aircraft from Ukrainian borders.
►Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles confirmed that six German-made Leopard 2 tanks shipped from Spain are due to arrive in Ukraine this week. And Ukrainian tank crews have completed training on Challenger 2 tanks in the U.K., the British Defense Ministry said Sunday.
Wagner leader says troops won’t take POWs: ‘Kill everyone on the battlefield’
Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said Sunday he is instructing his mercenaries not to capture prisoners of the war, the Kyiv Independent reported, citing a translation from video Prigohzin posted on social media.
Prigozhin made the comment in response to what Russian officials have described as an “intercepted conversation” posted to an unofficial Wagner-affiliated social media account. The post claims the conversation was between two Ukrainian soldiers deciding to shoot a prisoner of war.
“We will kill everyone on the battlefield,” Prigozhin said Sunday in the audio recording. “Take no more prisoners of the war!”
Russia may ease offensive, consolidate gains
Prigohzin said Western tanks, air defense systems and the training of up to 100,000 Ukraine troops meant Ukraine could pose “serious opposition” to Russian forces. Prigozhin, whose mercenaries have led the brutal, drawn-out assault on the eastern Ukraine city of Bakhmut, is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to focus on holding the current frontlines rather than seeking more gains. Prigohzin has repeatedly blamed insufficient ammunition supplies for slowing Russia’s offensive in the industrial Donbas region.
The Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment that top Russian military leaders in Moscow also may be pushing for a consolidation of existing gains in Ukraine as Moscow struggles with material and manpower.
Ukraine offensive could begin soon
Ukraine is poised to begin a counteroffensive to liberate more territories Russia has occupied in the months since the invasion began, Ukraine’s president and NATO’s secretary general say. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he is “confident” Kyiv is ready to take back some of its land.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his military is preparing new brigades and that issues such as training and integration into the general defense plan are being worked out with Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny. Ukrainian military forces have successfully established positions on the eastern side of the Dnieper River and established supply lines, the latest sign of Kyiv’s long-awaited spring counteroffensive, the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment.
“Everyone in Ukraine must understand that the main task of the state is the de-occupation of our territories, the return of our lands and our people from Russian captivity,” Zelenskyy said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine Russia live war updates: Russian issues warning to G-7 ‘idiots’