Deal struck to restart Ukrainian grain exports amid food crisis; US may send fighter jets to Ukraine: July 21 recap – USA TODAY

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A top U.S. military general says the United States and its allies are considering providing Ukraine with fighter jets, a decision that would sharply escalate the level of weaponry being sent to Kyiv.
Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, said the jets could come from the U.S. or its allies.
“I can’t speculate what aircraft they go to,” Brown said in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for fighter jets for months, saying Russia’s air supremacy has been a major stumbling block in his country’s efforts to repel the invasion. In March, the U.S. and NATO scuttled Poland’s proposal to send its Russian-built MiGs to Ukraine. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said at the time the proposal might be “mistaken as escalatory” and could provoke a Russian military confrontation with NATO.
Brown said Wednesday that Russian MiGs won’t be sent to Ukraine, saying with a laugh that it will “be tougher to get parts” from the Russians. “It’ll be something non-Russian,” he said. “I could probably tell you that, but I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be.”
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Latest developments
►A bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution that recognizes Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide. The measure, introduced by Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch, says the Kremlin has committed “heinous crimes against humanity.”
►Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state-controlled RT television that Russia has added parts of southern Ukraine to its focus, which officials had said was limited to the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
►Britain will supply Ukraine with scores of artillery guns, hundreds of drones and 1,600 anti-tank weapons, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced.
►Collen Kelapile, president of the Economic and Social Council known as ECOSOC, said there is growing concern that funding for critical U.N. development goals including ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030 might be neglected by Western donor nations supporting Ukraine militarily and financially in its war against Russia. 
Russian shelling pounded Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing at least three people and injuring at least 23 others Thursday morning.
The Kharkiv regional governor, Oleh Syniehubov, said four people were in grave condition and a child was among those wounded in the shelling. Russian forces also shelled wheat fields, setting them on fire, along with a market, a mosque, a medical facility, and a residential building, according to officials and witnesses.
The scattered attacks illustrate broader war aims beyond Russia’s previously declared focus on the Donbas region’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014.
The bombardment came after Russia on Wednesday reiterated its plans to seize territories beyond eastern Ukraine. It also followed Ukrainian attacks this week on a bridge the Russians have used to supply their forces in occupied areas near the country’s southern Black Sea coast.
Turkish officials say a deal has been reached on a U.N. plan to unblock the exports of Ukrainian grain amid the war. It is set to be signed Friday in Istanbul.
U.N. Secretary General Guterres has been working on a plan that would enable Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain stockpiles that have been stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports due to the war — a move that could ease a global food crisis that has sent wheat and other grain prices soaring. At least 22 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine due to the war.
“The grain export agreement, critically important for global food security, will be signed in Istanbul tomorrow under the auspices of President Erdoğan and U.N. Secretary General Mr. Guterres together with Ukrainian and Russian delegations,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said in a tweet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is “entirely too healthy” but the Russian military already has taken “significant” casualties in Ukraine, CIA Director William Burns said at the Aspen Security Forum. Burns dismissed persistent rumors that Putin, who traveled to Iran this week, is gravely ill from cancer or some other malady as unlikely.
Burns said that Russia’s military has adapted after suffering “catastrophic failures” early in the war. Latest estimates from the U.S. intelligence community put the number of Russian soldiers killed at about 15,000, and maybe 45,000 wounded, Burns said.
“One of my recent conversations with one of my Ukrainian counterparts, he pointed out that the dumb Russians are all dead,” Burns said. 
He added that Ukrainians have likely suffered fewer but still “significant” casualties.
The European Union unveiled a seventh round of sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting Russia’s capacity to  finance the war. The latest crackdown targets Russia’s “most significant export after energy” – Russian gold and jewelry.
But the rollout also extends exemptions for transactions for agricultural products and oil “to ensure we can overcome the looming global food crisis,” said Josep Borrell, high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. And technical assistance to Russia for aviation goods and technology will be allowed as needed to safeguard commercial air traffic.
Natural gas started flowing through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe on Thursday after a 10-day shutdown for maintenance, the operator said. But the gas flow was expected to fall well short of full capacity. Amid growing tensions over Russia’s war in Ukraine, German officials had feared that the pipeline might not reopen at all. It is the country’s main source of Russian gas, which has accounted for around a third of Germany’s gas supplies.
Wednesday, the European Commission urged member nations to immediately cut natural gas use by 15% or face cold homes and struggling economies this winter. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that Russia is using gas as a “weapon” in its war with Ukraine.
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska on Wednesday urged the U.S. to provide more weapons for her country’s fight “for our shared values of human life.” In her address to Congress, Zelenska thanked the U.S. for the billions of dollars already committed.
“You help us and your help is very strong,” Zelenska said. “While Russia kills, America  saves, and you should know about it. We thank you for that.”
Zelenska showed photos of children and families destroyed by Russia’s unrelenting missile attacks on Ukraine’s cities. She pleaded for more U.S. air defense weaponry to fend off the Russian military – “not to kill children in their strollers.”
Zelenska met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday and President Joe Biden on Tuesday, who tweeted after their meeting, “First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska embodies the same tenacity and resilience as the country she hails from.”
Contributing: The Associated Press


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